Cryopreservation of Monocots

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Monocotyledonous plants comprise the majority of agricultural plants in terms of biomass produced. Estimates of the number of species within this group range from 50,000 to 60,000. By far the largest monocot family is the orchid family, with some 20,000 species. Economically the most important family in this group (and in the flowering plants) is the grasses, family Gramineae or Poacea. Since many monocots are propagated through seed and monocot seed is often orthodox (can be dried to low moisture content see Chap. 19), seed conservation is the method of choice to store the diversity of many members of this group. Storage of desiccated seeds at low temperature is not applicable to crops that do not produce seed (e.g., bananas) or that produce recalcitrant seed (i.e. seed that can not be dried, see Chaps. 10, 18). Other plant species are propagated vegetatively to preserve the unique genomic constitution of cultivars (for crops such as yam, taro and garlic and ornamental plants such as lily and orchids) Vegetative tissues can be preserved in field collections and in vitro. Cryo- preservation, however, is the ultimate preservation method since under these conditions material can be preserved for unlimited periods without alteration. In this chapter cryopreservation protocols for vegetative tissues of monocotyledonous plants will be discussed.