Research Paper

Plant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture

, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 171-183

Automated, in vitro harvest of somatic embryos

  • R. C. HarrellAffiliated withAgricultural Engineering, University of Florida
  • , M. BieniekAffiliated withHorticultural Science, University of Florida
  • , C. F. HoodAffiliated withAgricultural Engineering, University of Florida
  • , R. MunillaAffiliated withAgricultural Engineering, University of Florida
  • , D. J. CantliffeAffiliated withHorticultural Science, University of Florida

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This work has demonstrated the aseptic, automated harvest of somatic embryos from a bioreactor suspension culture. Machine vision, emulating the selection criteria of an experienced biologist, classified embryos as harvestable or non-harvestable as they flowed through a 3 mm glass conduit. Embryos classified as harvestable were separated in a sealed harvest chamber. The system harvested 60% of the embryos at a rate of 2.4 embryos/h and incorrectly harvested less than 1% of the non-harvest objects. The low harvest rate precludes the applicability of this technique to research and commercial tissue culture laboratories. The suspension feed-rate, culture population density and culture homogeneity were identified as the most important factors influencing embryo harvest rate. The performance of this technique on more densely populated cultures was projected using anticipated improvements in suspension feedrate. It was concluded that, under the conditions of this analysis, the harvester would be of limited value in a commercial propagation environment but could be beneficial to many research labs working with plant somatic embryos.

Key words

classification machine vision somatic embryogenesis sorting