Biodiversity and Conservation
9 (9): 1261-1273, September 2000
Copyright © 2000 Kluwer Academic Publishers
All rights reserved

Conservation of the Cedrus libani populations in Lebanon: history, current status and experimental application of somatic embryogenesis

S. Khuri
Department Agricultural Botany, School of Plant Sciences, The University of Reading, Whiteknights P.O. Box 221, Reading, RG6 6AS, UK
M.R. Shmoury
Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, The American University of Beirut, P.O. Box: 11-0236, Beirut, Lebanon
R. Baalbaki
Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, The American University of Beirut, P.O. Box: 11-0236, Beirut, Lebanon
M. Maunder
Conservation Projects Development Unit, Living Collections Department, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, TW9 1AE, UK
S.N. Talhouk
Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, The American University of Beirut, P.O. Box: 11-0236, Beirut, Lebanon

Abstract

Cedrus libani, the cedar of Lebanon, is a threatened conifer native to the Levant. Over 4000 years of exploitation have resulted in the fragmentation and degradation of the Lebanese cedar populations. Continued urban and agricultural development in Lebanon adds to the difficulty of effective conservation. Two protected areas have recently been established which contain two of the more important forests: a cedar dominated forest in the Shouf region and a mixed forest at Ehden. A number of other populations are protected by ministerial decrees, and there is a need for rigorous management of all the remaining populations. The application of in vitro techniques such as somatic embryogenesis may assist in the conservation of this species. We have produced somatic pro-embryos using immature zygotic tissue as explants cultured on half-strength MS medium containing an auxin and a cytokinin (10 μM 2,4-D and 5 μ M BAP). The application of somatic embryogenesis to the Lebanese cedar would be in the propagation and preservation of selected genotypes, either those from old growth provenance for use in restoration, or those with desirable commercial or horticultural characteristics.
Keywords
Cedrus, in vitro conservation, Lebanon, somatic embryogenesis

Article ID: 258407