, Volume 37, Issue 6, pp 701-729

In vitro chili pepper biotechnology

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Summary

Chili pepper is an important horticultural crop that can surely benefit from plant biotechnology. However, although it is a Solanaceous member, developments in plant cell, tissue, and organ culture, as well as on plant genetic transformation, have lagged far behind those achieved for other members of the same family, such as tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum), tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum), and potato (Solanum tuberosum), species frequently used as model systems because of their facility to regenerate organs and eventually whole plants in vitro, and also for their ability to be genetically engineered by the currently available transformation methods. Capsicum members have been shown to be recalcitrant to differentiation and plant regeneration under in vitro conditions, which in turn makes it very difficult or inefficient to apply recombinant DNA technologies via genetic transformation aimed at genetic improvement against pests and diseases. Some approaches, however, have made possible the regeneration of chili pepper plants from in vitro-cultured cells, tissues, and organs through organogenesis or embryogenesis. Anther culture has been successfully applied to obtain haploid and doubledhaploid plants. Organogenic systems have been used for in vitro micropropagation as well as for genetic transformation. Application of both tissue culture and genetic transformation techniques have led to the development of chili pepper plants more resistant to at least one type of virus. Cell and tissue cultures have been applied successfully to the selection of variant cells exhibiting increased resistance to abiotic stresses, but no plants exhibiting the selected traits have been regenerated. Production of capsaicinoids, the hot principle of chili pepper fruits, by cells and callus tissues has been another area of intense research. The advances, limitations, and applications of chili pepper biotechnology are discussed.