Plant Breeding


  • Accelerated breeding times
  • Wide variety of plants
  • Introgression of wild species into cultivars
  • Numerous regeneration systems
  • available for many plants
Overcoming the limits of conventional breeding!

Our most innovative technology in cell and tissue culture for modern plant breeding is somatic hybridization via protoplast fusion, a versatile tool using natural diversity for increasing the gene pool of cultivars overcoming crossing barriers. Pollen sterility systems (CMS) for hybrid breeding can be created by new combination of nucleus and organelles. Phytowelt combines a high expertise in plant regeneration with new technologies in molecular biol- ogy for analysis. Our experience in protoplast fusion ranges from medicinal, ornamental, food and feed plants to trees.

Somatic hybridization (SH) offers an innovative approach to overcome many constraints of conventional breeding. Our technique is based on the fusion of somatic cells (wall free cells = protoplasts) by electro stimulation imitating the natural fusion of germ cells.

Somatic hybridization has various advantages as compared to conventional crossing:

Fig. 1 Plant regeneration from protoplast fusion experiment of a grass cultivar with a wild species.
  • It allows for the introgression of traits from (wild) species into cultivars overcoming crossing barriers.
  • By asymmetric fusion the genome transfer of the wild species can be minimized, reducing the number of time consuming backcrossing.
  • Protoplast fusion facilitates new combinations of nucleus and organelles for the creation of cytoplasmic male sterility (CMS), an optimal tool for hybrid breeding in crop plants. In conventional breeding the maternal inheritance of the organelles restricts the novel mixtures.
  • SH shortens the breeding time of species with long juvenile phases like trees extremely (1 year instead of 5-20 years).
  • Protoplast fusion (self-fusion) provides an alternative approach to colchicine treatment for the development of polyploid cultivars with increased biomass.

SH is only applicable, if efficient protoplast regeneration systems are available.

Phytowelt has established optimal systems for many plant species, including even difficult ones like grasses, cereals and legumes.

Phytowelt already applied the SH technology for many different applications.

Tubers of different somatic hybrids in
Fig. 2 Tubers of different somatic hybrids in comparison to the fusion partners (cultivar: upper lines, wild species: lower lines, hybrids: in-between).
  • In mint cultivars, which are sterile and can only be vegetatively propagated, SH was applied for increasing the gene pool by new combinations for quantitative (biomass) and qualitative traits (metabolites).
  • In potato cultivars new pathogen resistancegenes were transferred from wild species. Various resistant somatic hybrid lines with high tuber yield were selected (Fig. 2).
  • In fodder grasses new traits from wild grasses were transferred by SH. Biomass yield was increased significantly.
  • Phytowelt has developed the first intersectional hybrids of poplars via protoplastfusion! The gene pools of the different poplar species contain all traits needed for breeding cultivars that are ideally adapted for short rotation coppice (SRC), yet intersectional crosses are extreme difficult. Phytowelt`s technology enhances the breeding of optimal SRC poplar clones. Polyploid poplar clones derived from self fusion experiments show an increased biomass.