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Research Area 7 - Somatic Embryogenesis and Micropropagation of Lycoris Species

The genus Lycoris has 20 species and it belongs to family Amaryllidaceae (USDA/GRIN 2010). These unique bulb plants are native to Eastern and Southern Asia and freely occur in temperate and tropical regions and thus have heat tolerance mechanisms that are suitable for their adaptability to urban environments. They are also naturalized in Alabama and other southeastern states in the U.S. where they are variously called hurricane lily and spider lily. Most species have a unique growth habit. With the warming trend, it is expected that they will expand their native and naturalized range in the U.S. and China. Efforts are underway in China to improve their adaptability to heat islands created in urban landscapes and to improve rapid micropropagation of Lycoris spp. with superior leaf and flower retention attributes. 


During a recent trip to Nanjing Forestry University considerable time was spent in developing long-term collaboration with Dr. Jian Zhou’s group as they are working on Lycoris spp. extensively. Their group consists of six graduate students, one post-doctoral associate and several undergraduate students. Lycoris spp. are native to Jiangsu Province and also naturalized in Alabama, therefore we are proposing to expose REU students to the principles and practice of tissue culture and micropropagation. Considerable work has been completed in the study of the effect of explant type, auxin, cytokinin, salt and sucrose concentration on differentiation in China (Zhu et al. 2002). Research in cell and tissue culture is well developed at AAMU also (Beyl and Sharma 1983, Kelley et al. 2002 and 2004, Sakhanokho et al. 2004) on both monocot and dicot species. Similarly, Dr. Jian Zhou has an active laboratory with excellent facilities consisting of media preparation lab, laminar flow hoods, microscopy lab and plant growth chambers. In addition, REU students will have an opportunity to observe cell and tissue culture systems for many other plant species such as Populus deltoides and its hybrids, Chinese fir, Gingko and landscape plants that are being worked on at NFU. These species are being planted in rapidly expanding urban landscapes while Lycoris spp. in Alabama have been utilized in both rural and urban home landscapes. Lecture and hands-on tissue culture opportunity will be provided to REU students. In China three explant sources of two species of Lycoris will be selected in Zhou Lab. The starting culture material will be leaf explants, mature and immature embryos and also sections of plantlets in culture. Advance preparation the Zhou laboratory will occur that will provide established cultures for the students to subculture and observe some differentiation in callus tissues while they are there. Students will also travel to parts of Jiangsu and neighboring Anhui province to observe lilies growing in native forested land and will also observe them in urban plantings in Shanghai where they will be under urban heat stress. Students will be able to also test the effect of media composition on the rate of growth and differentiation of tissues in vitro because of prior preparation. They will initiate their study of cell culture methodologies and cell culture techniques prior to going to China and will have completed their final report in China upon their return.​