Field performance of Theobroma cacao L. plants propagated via somatic embryogenesis

Siela N. Maximova, Ann Young, Sharon Pishak, Mark J. Guiltinan

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20 Scopus citations


Somatic embryogenesis is an in vitro clonal propagation method with potential to contribute to the improvement of cacao varieties. Before using this technology for commercial production, it is essential that somatic embryogenesis-derived plants be tested in field conditions. Therefore, we established a field test at Union Vale Estate, Saint Lucia. Thirty- to 50-yr-old trees were selected for clonal propagation as potentially high yielding based on local farmers observations. Clonal plants were propagated in vitro from immature flowers by embryogenesis and micropropagation. Multiple plants from nine genotypes were acclimated to greenhouse conditions then returned to Saint Lucia and planted in a field. Orthotropic rooted cuttings and locally propagated open pollinated seedlings were also planted for a total of 214 trees. Growth data were collected every 4-6 mo. including: stem diameter, stem height, length of the longest jorquette branch, number of jorquette branches, and dates of first flowering and fruiting. At 4.5 yr after planting in the field there were no major differences in all growth parameters among the propagation methods evaluated with exception of the orthotropic rooted cuttings. Trees grown from seeds were slightly taller then trees propagated by the other methods. Trees propagated as orthotropic rooted cuttings exhibited smaller average stem diameters, shorter stem heights to the jorquette, and shorter jorquette branches. We concluded that somatic embryo-derived plants demonstrated normal phenotypes in field conditions and have growth parameters similar to plants propagated by traditional methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)487-493
Number of pages7
JournalIn Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology - Plant
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Plant Science


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