Tasks in biotechnology include the adaption of established in vitro techniques. For selected horticultural crops in vitro techniques such as haploid production, polyploidisation, mutagenesis and somatic hybridisation are being applied in order to expand the genetic diversity. Nowadays methods of plant cell tissue and organ culture have consistently been a part of breeding strategies.
Horticultural crops encompassing a large number of species and different potential uses represent a special challenge. Depending on the projects a wide range of biotechnological methods is used. Postgamic incompatibilities can be overcome by means of embryo rescue technique. Often after interspecific or intergeneric hybridisation the plant embryos survive only on artificial media, in vivo on the plant they die early.
Homozygous genotypes facilitate and accelerate the breeding progress. For this purpose, microspores, pollen, anthers, ovules and ovaries were cultivated in vitro for generation of haploid plants. In case that there are no spontaneous chromosome duplications, various methods for polyploidisation make it possible to receive doubled haploids (DH plants).
The broadening of genetic diversity resulting from a combination of traits with various genetic backgrounds, e.g. nuclear and cytoplasmic genes, is a challenge in plant breeding research. Somatic hybridisation is an important tool for achieving that goal. Prerequisite for the somatic hybridisation is the establishment of efficient protocols for protoplast culture starting with protoplast isolation, following fusion and up to the successful plant regeneration.
Embryogenic suspensions and callus cultures support the completion of protoplast culture and the production of secondary metabolites. The latter provides a promising alternative to collection of plants, thus making a lasting contribution to sustainable resource use.
Methods for gene transfer involve extensive phases in vitro. The supply of gene cassettes and agrobacteria is ensured by cooperations. It is an essential central link for networking with the other working areas of the Institute for Breeding Research on Horticultural Crops and even further with external partners.
Furthermore, the working area of biotechnology covers the transmitted light and fluorescence microscopy; flow cytometry and PCR based marker techniques like RAPD, AFLP and Southern hybridisation referring to special questions of plant tissue culture.