Somatic Embryogenesis (SEG):The key method used in KCS Date Palm tissue culture laboratory is somatic embryogenesis (SEG). In this method apical meristem tip is taken from selected plants off shoot. This tissue is chopped in small pieces (called explants) and transferred aseptically onto a specified growth medium in closed container in laboratory. These explants are induced to make Callus, pro-embryos and then somatic embryos. Many of the embryos then develop into tiny plantlets, and ultimately into well-formed plantlets with 3-4 long leaves, well-formed shoot and strong roots. These plantlets are now ready for acclimatization (gradual exposure to the field conditions) outside the laboratory. During this stage the plants are nourished and protected in semi controlled environment which induces photosynthesis to become autotrophic. Further growth and development takes place in the nursery until final size is achieved and ready for field planting.
Date Palm tissue culture is a very slow process. The time frame required to reach up to the developed plantlets in laboratory at in vitro stage lasts more than three years. The following hardening stage takes nearly 2 years. The entire process from offshoot initiation to plants ready for field planting is nearly 5 - 6 years. Every genotype differs in their requirements of environment at one stage or the other. Some varieties are faster, others are slower, but we produce few hundreds of plantlets per off-shoot.