University of Florida

Philip Kauth: Research

Thesis Summary

I had several aims with my thesis, but the primary goals were to 1) develop new protocols and 2) improve existing protocols for in vitro propagation of native terrestrial orchids. The orchid industry has grown immensely over the past 5 years, and new markets have formed recently. One market, although small, deals with the propagation and production of native orchids. Currently the temperate ladyslippers, Cypripedium species, are the only native orchid to be propagated on a somewhat large-scale. Efficient in vitro seed culture techniques are required In order to expand the native orchid market. In vitro seed culture is the primary method to produce native orchids, however; this technique produces flowering plants in 5-6 years, which deters customer acceptance of plants. We used two species of native terrestrial orchids for this study: Calopogon tuberosus and Sacoila lanceolata var. lanceolata.

Current Research Projects

Growth and Development of Calopogon tuberosus

We are currently studying Calopogon tuberosus for several reasons. This species is widespread throughout eastern North America. Since this orchid has a large distribution, the possibility of ecotypes may exist. Simply stated, ecotypes are plants of the same species that exhibit different physiological or morphological traits. These traits are due to different habitats and genetics influenced by different environmental conditions. Identifying ectoypes is important for both conservation and commercial purposes. Debate continues to exist for using "local seed for local conservation", as well as determining "how local is local." To determine ecotypes we are using in vitro techniques such as seed culture and micropropagation.

In Vitro Seed Culture

We (as well as many great volunteers) are currently collecting seeds of Calopogon tuberosus from several populations in the United States. All these populations grow in various habitats that experience diverse weather patterns, photoperiods, and light intensity. To assist in determinig ecotypic differences, seeds are germinated under different photoperiods and temperatures. These conditions are then kept throughout protocorm and seedling growth in vitro.

Micropropagation

As Dr. Kane's research has found, plants of the same species show strikingly different responses to micropropagation. See Dr. Kane's webpages concerning the Sea Oats projects. Using seedlings from a Florida population, we found that seedlings grow quickly from corm explants in culture in the presence of several growth regulators. Seedlings from the various populations will be used for these micropropagation studies to also aid in ecotype determination.