The development of short-to-medium and long-term germplasm storage protocols for Eucalyptus spp.
Eucalyptus trees are a significant source of fuelwood, timber and raw material for the paper and pulp industry. In South Africa, Eucalyptus grandis and its hybrids are in high demand due to their fast growth and suitability of their timber for a wide range of products. Breeding and selection for superior quality eucalypts could sustain this high demand through selection and subsequent multiplication of superior genotypes and their use in controlled crosses. However, for this to be successful, a wide genepool must be available and maintained. Germplasm conservation of both vegetative and sexual material is therefore an integral part of such activities. However, in the case of trees, in vivo conservation practices are expensive and hazardous. The aim of this project was therefore to establish alternative conservation strategies for short-to-medium and long-term use of Eucalyptus spp. to facilitate on-going breeding and clonal programmes. For short-to-medium term storage, shoot cultures were subjected to various minimal growth conditions. Of the investigated treatments, reducing nutrients was the best storage method and shoots were maintained for 10 months with multiplication rates of 13.75 ± 7.05 shoots/explant. Encapsulated axillary buds were stored in jars at 10 °C or 28 °C. Of these two treatments, viability was sustained for longer (6 months) at 4 °C. Before establishing pollen storage regimes, viability assessment methods were evaluated and these consisted of in vitro germination on a BK (Brewbaker and Kwack, 1963) medium for 24 hours (26 ± 3.0%) and staining with two tetrazolium salts. Medium-term storage of pollen was best achieved by maintenance in the fridge (4 °C) without any desiccating substance (8 months at 6.73 ± 1.21%). Cryopreservation protocols were investigated for axillary buds and pollen. Buds that were 2 mm long were pretreated with chemical cryoprotectants, and a mixture of DMSO (dimethylsulphoxide) and glycerol was found to induce high survival rates (63%) after washing with MS (Murashige and Skoog, 1962) and 4 g.l-1 sucrose solution. Explants precultured in 1M sucrose showed increased tolerance (explant retained high survival rates of 80%) when desiccated to 20% moisture content fresh weight basis (fwb). Although pretreatments were successfully established, explants did not survive storage in liquid nitrogen indicating the need for further optimization of protocols. Pollen was successfully cryopreserved for 12 months with 23% survival rates. Applications and future research strategies of the developed protocols to Eucalyptus breeding programmes are discussed.
- Masters Degrees (Botany)