Current issue: 53(3)
Under compilation: 53(4)
53 genotypes of embryonal suspensor masses (ESMs) rescued from mature seeds of Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) H. Karst.) were examined for their pattern of growth and development under standardized culture conditions in vitro. Patterns were classified according to the colour of the colonies grown in darkness, clarity of cell masses and proembryos in the mucilaginous ESM, surface boundary topology of colonies, structure of suspensors, growth rate of the ESM, and recovery of mature embryos.
Five distinctive major growth patterns were observed among ESM colonies under standardized culture conditions. The multiplication of proembryos and early embryos by cleavage and budding polyembryony was the main factor contributing to proliferation and colony growth and further determined the morphology of the colonies. Callus and teratological structures were induced from early embryos by changing the standardized culture conditions i.e. inadequate subculture, excessive dose of 2,4-D in the medium and premature exposure of the colonies to light. Results enable the selection of ESM genotypes for the predictable recovery of mature somatic embryos.
Forest tree breeding involves manipulation of genetic composition of populations and individuals, and biotechnology focuses on selected individuals. The new techniques cannot replace the conventional breeding techniques but both need effective cooperation of each other. Thus, the distinction between conventional breeding and biotechnology is artificial. The biotechnology methods are new and fast developing and the future with field and progeny testing will show which techniques will be permanently adopted into tree breeding. For instance, the earlier hope of the use of somaclonal variation as a new source of variability and a powerful tool for the breeder seem today quite the opposite. Somaclonal variation constituting a major problem in present-day micropropagation is due to the unpredictable variation. Based on knowledge of today, especially micropropagation via somatic embryos, transgenic trees and the identification of major genes seem to be good candidates to be permanently adopted into tree breeding.