Optimising tissue culture of coconut in support of saving the Pacific regional genebank

Project code
AUD 200,000
Research program manager
Ms Irene Kernot
Project leader
Steve Adkins - University of Queensland
Commissioned organisation
The University of Queensland
MAY 2017
NOV 2018
Project status
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This Small Research Activity aimed to optimise the embryo culture methods needed to move the Pacific Regional Coconut Gene Bank from Madang to far eastern Papua New Guinea and to set up a duplicate collection in Fiji and Samoa.

It aimed to achieve this during a series of research activities, and to re-invigorate the laboratory facilities required to do this. It also aimed to provide guidance and methodology to create the duplicate collections in Fiji and Samoa, and strengthen the methodology needed to collect new coconut accessions in the field.

The copra industry in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands has declined, but coastal communities still depend on coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) for income and ecosystem services. Access to genetic diversity ensures the resilience of this livelihood system - but an insect-borne phytoplasma, Bogia Coconut Disease, threatened the Pacific Regional Coconut Gene Bank at Madang in Papua New Guinea (the guardian and principal source of this diversity). The collection needed to be moved quickly.

An ACIAR-funded scoping study, led by the Global Crop Diversity Trust, identified a strategy to save some disease-free accessions and collect new material of others, and use the material to re-establish the gene bank in the far-east of Papua New Guinea, with back-up collections in Fiji and Samoa. Moving the accessions that can be saved, collecting new disease-free materials, and their safe conservation depend on embryo culture and other tissue culture approaches developed for coconut.

Key partners
Cocoa Coconut Institute of Papua New Guinea
Ministry of Agriculture
Secretariat of the Pacific Community