Biotechnology Services

NARI has two operating tissue culture laboratories. The smaller laboratory at the Bubia Momase Regional Centre Biotechnology Laboratory has focused on research. The larger facility at Aiyura is a shared facility between NARI and Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC).

NARI has been the manager and main user of the Aiyura Tissue Culture Laboratory (TCL) over recent years, primarily to supply foundation material for the National seed potato program
and for producers of virus free sweetpotato planting cuttings from NARI Pathogen Tested (PT) planting material.

The Aiyura TCL maintains tissue culture of crop species for germplasm conservation, virus
cleaning (PT) and mass micro-propagation for commercial purposes. The commercial
aspects generate sufficient income to cover the cost of consumables and electricity, but is
not yet commercially viable. The main challenges for 2021 remain the frequent power disruptions. A replacement generator has been acquired.

The other challenge has been wastage through the oversupply of potato tissue
culture plantlets due to client insufficient screen house capacity to utilise the supply. This is a concern to NARI on wasted tissue culture output as well as possible impact on seed potato
supply to farmers.

The MRC Biotechnology Laboratory is conducting molecular research and invitro mutagenesis. The laboratory has identified the Banana Wilt Associated Phytoplasma (BWAP) causing decline in bananas in the Markham Valley, its insect vectors, and developed the tissue culture technique for providing clean planting material for the Kalapua and Yawa varieties affected. The work on mutation breeding is done with support of the International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA) which involves preparing tissue culture material for mutation through radiation by the IAEA. Invitro mutagenesis of vegetatively propagated crops relies on reproducible tissue culture protocols. The laboratory is currently working on the following protocols:

• Optimised surface sterilisation
• Optimised banana initiation and shoot induction using single growth regulators or in
• Optimised banana shoot multiplication
• Optimised banana rooting
• Optimised sweetpotato multiplication using callus culture
• Optimise disease (BSD) screening procedures in the screen house and under nursery
conditions for detached leaf methods and invitro plantlets.