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In vitro morphogenesis of organogenic nodules derived from Sclerocarya birrea subsp. caffra leaf explants


Sclerocarya birrea (marula) is an indigenous South African tree with highly valued medicinal and nutritional properties. Induction of nodular meristemoids from leaf explants was achieved on Murashige and Skoog (MS) and woody plant medium (WPM) supplemented with 6-benzyladenine (BA) in combination with naphthalene acetic acid (NAA), indole-3-butryric acid (IBA) and indole-3-acetic acid (IAA). Induction of nodular meristemoids from 86% of the leaf cultures was achieved on MS medium with 4.0 μM BA and 1.0 μM NAA. High levels (78–100%) of induction were also achieved on WPM with different concentrations of BA (1.0–4.0 μM) and IBA (1.0–4.0 μM). The highest conversion of meristemoids into shoots was only 22% for 4.0 μM BA and 1.0 μM NAA on MS initiation medium. This was improved to 62% when nodular clusters were cultured in a MS liquid medium. Histological studies revealed the globular stage of the nodular meristemoids. This protocol has potential for application in mass micropropagation and plant breeding of S. birrea.

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Indole-3-acetic acid


Indole-3-butyric acid


Murashige and Skoog


α-Naphthalene acetic acid




Woody plant medium


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We gratefully acknowledge the financial support by the National Research Foundation (NRF), Pretoria and the University of KwaZulu-Natal. We would also like to thank Pricilla Donnelly, Shirley Mackellar, Tutuzwa Xuma and Pat Joubert of the Centre for Electron Microscopy, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg for the technical support rendered.

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Correspondence to Johannes Van Staden.

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Moyo, M., Finnie, J.F. & Van Staden, J. In vitro morphogenesis of organogenic nodules derived from Sclerocarya birrea subsp. caffra leaf explants. Plant Cell Tiss Organ Cult 98, 273–280 (2009).

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  • Morphogenesis
  • Nodular meristemoids
  • Sclerocarya birrea
  • Micropropagation
  • Histology