Using Biotechnology to Emphasize Desirable Tree Characteristics

Research Issue

[photo:] Embryos being developed in petri plates on the top shelf of the incubator are the result if a single somatic cell taken from the liquid cell cultures of lines with high embryogenic potential.

Different trees are valued for different characteristics, which can include the quality of their fruit or nuts, resistance to disease, or biomass potential (the energy that can be obtained from plants by burning or as biofuel). Just as crops and ornamental plants have been genetically engineered to emphasize specific traits, specific tree species can be improved to achieve specific goals. However, some tree types have proven to be resistant to older genetic engineering techniques.

Our Research

Northern Research Station scientists used a process called somatic embryogenesis in which a plant or a plant embryo is derived from a single cell or group of cells from normal plant tissue, as opposed to the cells that are normally involved in embryo development. This process can be used to guide plant breeding efforts and to study the molecular and biochemical processes that occur during plant embryo development.

Expected Outcomes

This research helped improve cloning methods for trees that have valuable traits.

Research Results

Minocha, Rakesh; Minocha, Subhash C.; Long, Stephanie 2004. Polyamines and their biosynthetic enzymes during somatic embryo development in red spruce (Picea rubens Sarg.). In Vitro Cell. Dev. Biol.-Plant 40:572-580

Minocha, Rakesh; Smith, Dale R.; Reeves, Cathie; Steele, Kevin D.; Minocha, Subhash C. 1999. Polyamine levels during the development of zygotic and somatic embryos of Pinus radiata. Physiologia Plantarum. 105: 155-164.

Minocha, S.C.; Minocha, R. 1995. Role of polyamines in somatic embryogenesis. In: Bajaj, Yps, ed. Somatic embryogenesis and synthetic seed, Vol. 30. London, UK: Springer-Verlag Publishers: 53-70.

Minocha, Subhash C.; Minocha, Rakesh 1995. Historical aspects of somatic embryogenesis in woody plants. In: Jain, S.; Gupta, P.; Newton, R., eds. Somatic embryogenesis in woody plants. Vol. I. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers: 9-22.

Minocha, Rakesh; Minocha, Subhash C.; Simola, Liisa Kaarina 1995. Somatic embryogenesis and polyamines in woody plants. In: Jain, S.; Gupta, P.; Newton, R., eds. Somatic embryogenesis in woody plants. Vol. I. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers: 337-359.

Minocha, Rakesh; Kvaalen, Haarald; Minocha, Subhash C.; Long, Stephanie 1993. Polyamines in embryogenic cultures of Norway spruce (Picea abies) and red spruce (Picea rubens). Tree Physiology. 13: 365-377.

Research Participants

Principal Investigators

  • Rakesh Minocha, US Forest Service Northern Research Station, Senior Supervisory Plant Physiologist

Research Partners

  • Stephanie Long, US Forest Service Northern Research Station, Biological Sciences Technician and Lab Manager
  • Subhash C. Minocha, University of New Hampshire, Biological Sciences Department
  • Eny I. S. Floh, University of São Paulo, Institute of Biosciences, Department of Botany, Laboratory of Plant Cell Biology, São Paulo, Brazil
  • Last modified: September 11, 2018