Journal of Oil Palm Research Vol. 23  2011 April p.  935-952

Commercial-scale propagation and planting of elite oil palm clones: research and development towards realization

Author(s): SOH, A.C. * ; WONG, G. * ; TAN, C.C. * ; CHEW, P.S. * ; CHONG, S.P. * ; HO, Y.W. * ; WONG, C.K. * ; CHOO, C.N. * ; NOR AZURA, H. * ; KUMAR, K. *

The announce­ments of break­throughs in plant regen­er­a­tion from tis­sue cul­tures of oil palm in the 1970s ush­ered in a new chap­ter in oil palm genetic improve­ment with pro­jected yield increase of clones exceed­ing 30% over hybrid seeds. How­ever, the sub­se­quent ubiq­ui­tous appear­ance of the man­tled fruit somaclonal vari­ant in regen­er­ated palms resulted in the early com­mer­cial oil palm tis­sue cul­ture lab­o­ra­to­ries revert­ing to fur­ther research and devel­op­ment (R&D). Applied Agri­cul­tural Resources Sdn Bhd per­sisted and, through its R&D, cir­cum­vented the imped­ing issues of unac­cept­ably high fruit mantling, and low effi­cien­cies of tis­sue cul­ture amenabil­ity and selec­tion of elite palms. In the process, it has estab­lished viable large-scale com­mer­cial prop­a­ga­tion of oil palm clones by gel and liq­uid cul­ture meth­ods by the late 1990s. This achieve­ment has since been emu­lated by more than a dozen com­mer­cial lab­o­ra­to­ries in Malaysia and else­where, pro­duc­ing about 3.5 mil­lion ram­ets per year. This appar­ent suc­cess has led indus­try to believe that oil palm cloning is an estab­lished and effi­cient tech­nol­ogy, and that more tis­sue cul­ture lab­o­ra­to­ries to pro­duce more high-yielding clones to replace hybrid seeds in plant­ing and replant­ing will resolve the stag­nat­ing national yields.
Much of the increased ramet pro­duc­tion comes from more lab­o­ra­to­ries cul­tur­ing more palms than in improved cloning effi­cien­cies. Most of the clones cur­rently pro­duced are also derived either from advanced dura (D) x pisifera ℗ hybrids or from com­mer­cial DxP fields with low her­i­tabil­ity for yield. Con­se­quently, the expected yields of the clones would not be much dif­fer­ent from those of near true F1 and clonal hybrids which are cur­rently avail­able at a much reduced cost and with­out the atten­dant mantling risk. The agro-management needs of clonal plant­i­ngs to max­i­mize their fruit bunch yield poten­tial have yet to be sys­tem­at­i­cally addressed through sci­en­tific exper­i­men­ta­tion. Cloning ortets from the early or recom­bi­nant phases of hybrid breed­ing pro­grammes would be more effi­cient with the wider genetic vari­abil­ity and higher her­i­tabil­ity for yield and other desir­able traits. Per­haps the biggest advan­tage of cloning would be in the early com­mer­cial exploita­tion of new genetic mate­ri­als from intro­gres­sion pro­grammes of wide intra– or inter-specific crosses which would also broaden the genetic base of the com­mer­cial plant­i­ngs to reduce the risk of genetic vul­ner­a­bil­ity to pests, dis­eases and envi­ron­men­tal stress.
Clones are unlikely to super­sede hybrid seeds as the dom­i­nant oil palm plant­ing mate­r­ial until the amenabil­ity and fidelity defi­cien­cies in tis­sue cul­ture have been fur­ther resolved or cir­cum­vented, and their field per­for­mance advan­tage over con­cur­rent improved hybrids clearly demonstrated.

Keywords: , , , ,

Author Information
* Applied Agricultural Resources Sdn Bhd, Locked Bag 212, Sg Buloh Post Office, 47000 Sg Buloh, Selangor, Malaysia.

Cited By

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Source: Scopus
Last updated: 22 May 2017

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