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Freezing healthy plants for the future


Photo: Håkon Sverdvik

Potato and important horticultural crops such as strawberries and raspberries propagate vegetatively. To avoid ever-greater damage from viruses and other diseases that live inside the plants, there must be healthy mother plants.

It is costly both to produce and to maintain perfectly healthy mother plants from year to year. Therefore, plant producers need new technologies that reduce the costs of maintaining healthy mother plants.

Cryopreservation is defined as the storage of living cells, bits of tissue, organs and organisms at very low temperature, usually in liquid nitrogen at -196°C. Cryopreservation of plant material has undergone a huge development in the last 15 years, so that there are now good protocols for freezing and cryopreservation of many kinds of plant. Cryotechniques are now used also for the cleansing of sick plants.

Commercial actors therefore come to NIBIO to get completely healthy mother plants prepared that can be stored for a long time. Then we develop protocols for each kind of plant so that they can be frozen and stored for many years, and then thawed and grown again. First on the list are types of begonia, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, marguerite daisies, potatoes and shallots, spread over four different projects.

NIBIO has the main scientific responsibility and the work is carried out in close cooperation with partners. Norwegian partners are: Sagaplant, the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Graminor, the Norwegian Genetic Resource Centre, Grønn Næringskompetanse, Piql, Tiboplant and Norner.