Field planting of alfalfa artificial seeds
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Encapsulated somatic embryos (artificial seeds) and naked (uncoated) somatic embryos of alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) were planted directly into the field to demonstrate the feasibility of using artificial seeds for direct sowing. Various row coverings that provided protection for the somatic embryos during conversion (plant formation) in the field and encapsulation methods were investigated. The highest conversion obtained in the field was 25% when naked somatic embryos were planted under the protective covering of inverted styrofoam cups. In comparison, 60% conversion was obtained when embryos were planted in potting mix in a growth chamber. Somatic embryos encapsulated by the thin-coat method converted at 23% under cups in the field and 40% in potting mix in the growth chamber. Naked somatic embryos had an average of 13 and 9% conversion in the field under plastic and cloth coverings, respectively, whereas encapsulated embryos converted at 5 and 14%, respectively. Direct-planted embryos (no row covering) converted at 1% in the field. Successful conversion of coated and naked somatic embryos planted in the field supports the concept of artificial seeds serving as a substitute for natural seeds.
Key wordsMedicago conversion embryogenesis encapsulation somatic embryo
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