Crimean biologists grow virus-free plants
A unique research on the cultivation of virus-free plants is being carried out in the Nikitsky Botanical Garden, National Science Center of Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS).
«It is impossible to completely cure an adult plant from a virus by means of ordinary means, like spraying with chemicals. There are another way — to cultivate a new plant, which is initially free of a virus and would resistant to it», Irina Mitrofanova, Head of the Department of Biology of Plant Development, Biotechnology and Biosafety of the Nikitsky Botanical Garden, explained.
Researchers of the Garden select plant cuttings and treat them by antiseptics. Then, a meristem — a tiny part of a bud — is allocated from buds. In the laboratory, it is planted on a nutrient medium along with virucides, special substances that fight viruses. Thus, meristems produce plant cuttings, which later develop into healthy plants.
The biologists have developed the treatment course for every specie and variety. They cure plants even from cell-free viruses that are embedded in the genome and live with it. Plants with such «parasite» viruses are frozen in liquid nitrogen at a temperature of -196° C in special cryochambers.
Today the Nikitsky garden has become an experimental site for the creation of virus-free seed plot, where new varieties of 24 crops are planted, including persimmon, fig, pomegranate, feijoa and olive.
«Our strategic objective is to bring the scientific research conducted in the garden to the world level», Jurij Plugatar’, Head of the National Science Center, said.
Nikitsky Botanical Garden is a complex scientific research institution that conducts work on fruit growing and botany. It is located in Crimea, close to Yalta, by the shores of the Black Sea.
Its collection counts over 50,000 species, sorts and hybrides. Its scientific work consists in study of natural flora, collection of gene fund, selection and introduction of new agricultural plants.
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