Elimination of virus and rapid propagation of disease-free sugarcane (Saccharum spp. cultivar NCo376) using apical meristem culture


The use of apical meristem culture for simultaneous virus elimination and shoot proliferation in sugarcane was assessed. Virus-free plants were propagated from Sugarcane mosaic virus and Sugarcane yellow leaf virus-infected material of the South African commercial cultivar, NCo376. A combination of thermotherapy by hot water treatment of stem sections (nodes) and subsequent germination of vegetative buds at 40°C and optimal meristem size were key factors for the production of virus-free plants. Only meristems of 2 mm in length or of a smaller size (but >0.5 mm) resulted in virus-free sugarcane. Shoot induction and proliferation via direct organogenesis were achieved on Murashige and Skoog nutrient medium supplemented with 0.1 mg l−1 6-benzyladenine and 0.015 mg l−1 6-furfurylaminopurine (KIN). The established protocol provides for the rapid proliferation of virus-free shoots from infected sugarcane plants and approximately 1,300 shoots were propagated from a single 2 mm meristem in 11 weeks. Plants remained virus-free when tested 12 months later.

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2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid






Napthaleneacetic acid


Sugarcane mosaic virus


Single budded nodes


Hot water treatment


Sugarcane yellow leaf virus


Basal salts and vitamins of Murashige and Skoog (1962)


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Gwethlyn Meyer (SASRI) for proof-reading and critical review of the manuscript and Nikki Sewpersad (SASRI) for assistance with statistical analyses.

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Correspondence to S. Ramgareeb.

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Ramgareeb, S., Snyman, S.J., van Antwerpen, T. et al. Elimination of virus and rapid propagation of disease-free sugarcane (Saccharum spp. cultivar NCo376) using apical meristem culture. Plant Cell Tiss Organ Cult 100, 175–181 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11240-009-9634-7

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  • Sugarcane mosaic virus (SCMV)
  • Sugarcane yellow leaf virus (ScYLV)
  • Meristem culture
  • Meristem size
  • Plant proliferation