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Generally speaking, tissue culture is composed of a group of techniques that have in common the necessity to work in aseptic conditions and grow pieces of vegetal material on sterile media for a variable length of time. Two main methods are currently used for the multiplication of date palms: somatic embryogenesis and organogenesis.

The first scientist to do basic research on the in vitro multiplication of the date palm was G. Beauchesne. He worked as a research manager at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS.fr) in the 1960s, and then for LRPV (Vegetal Physiology Research Laboratory) from 1966 to 1975. Beauchesne’s work was mainly based on a type of organogenesis. After he retired in 1984, Professor Letouzé, a research manager at the CNRS, took over his research and redirected the technique toward somatic embryogenesis, which proved much more suitable for our industrial production.

In October 1986, Marionnet GFA signed a contract with the LRPV to continue research on the somatic embryogenesis method. LRPV was in charge of the basic research and Marionnet was responsible for the application of this research on an industrial level in its own laboratory, initially built in 1976 for the micro-propagation of strawberry plants. The first industrial production of date palms entered the world market in 1990. This method consists of putting a piece of the meristematic zone of an offshoot onto a specific medium. Then, the cells are undifferentiated and multiplied. Embryos are obtained without any fecundation. Finally, these embryos are placed onto another medium where they develop into normal plants such as any natural zygotic embryos. 

CONTINUOUS INNOVATION

The company is constantly updated on the latest developments in tissue culture technology. Some of its plants are now produced using the RITA system (Automatic Temporary Immersion Container), which allows for more synchronization homogeneity in the maturation of the embryos. Over 90% of the overall in vitro process is hormone-free.

The company has also updated the technology of in vitro preservation of some selected cultures through cryo-conservation. Embryos are desiccated and then dropped into liquid nitrogen, where they can be preserved for a very long period of time without any alteration for future development, such as a demand for “old fashioned” varieties, specific orders, etc.

ACCLIMATIZATION AND HARDENING

After the in vitro process the plants are transplanted in “torpedo type” pots in a special peat mixture and acclimatized in greenhouses under special frames for eight weeks. Once adapted to the ex-vitro atmosphere they are hardened for another 4 to 8 weeks, when they reach the size of approximately 25-30 cm with 3 to 5 juvenile leaves. At this stage it is decided if they should be exported (in boxes of 25 units by air) or transferred to larger pots in the shade house for further hardening.

The shade house is where the young trees really adapt to the outside environment. They are transplanted into big pots of 10 liters with a special mixture of sand, peat and fertilizer. After 6 to 8 months they reach a size adapted to the growers’ demand, with at least one adult leaf (also called pinnae leaf) and over 30 cm in height and are then ready for field planting.

If properly planted and taken care of, a 40 cm tree with over three adult leaves generally ensures a survival rate of 100% and produces its first fruits in 2-3 years, as noticed in various parts of the UAE. 

Quality First

true to type date palms
 

Our plants are true to type:

Our plants are true to type. The need to produce high quality date palm trees rather than focus solely on financial profit makes the company’s production protocols very strict with fixed limits in several domains, such as quantity of plants produced per offshoot, the elimination of the use of hormones for more than 90% of the process, bar-coded labeling, etc. New plant materials are introduced every month.

 

Permanent Quality Control:

It is of high importance to ensure the true-to-type state of our trees by monitoring their genetic stability during the whole in vitro process. The Group for Control and Survey of Varieties and Seeds (GEVES.fr), a department of the French Ministry of Agriculture with great experience in the field of conformity and fingerprinting techniques, also a reliable independent party, controls this process.

Our plants are also regularly monitored at several growth stages by ISSR (Inter Simple Sequence Repeat). These complicated processes allow the assessment of the stability of the varieties by comparing the genetic profiles of the mother plants (offshoots) with those of the vitroplants. 

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Several independent official parties ensure a continuous follow-up on the morphology and fruit characteristics of our plants during the first five years of production. The best way to assess the reliability of a technology is to perform checks at plantations in the field, with the conditions of a natural grove. 

Field

Confirmation

© 2015 by Al Wathba Marionnet.

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