In Vitro Plant Cell Culture

Group Structure

Group Leader: Ramon Dolcet (IRTA Researcher)
Researchers: Victòria Marfà, Elisabet Claveria.
PhD Students: Moustafa Yassine Mahdad (until November 2012), Paola Mora (since October 2013)
Undergrad or Master Students: Julio Antonio Adriano, Eduard Cabré, Javier Checa, Sara Garcia, Rafael Pablo Martín, Dafne Padrós, Manel Pomar, Ambra Valsesia, Daniel Vitores
General Research Support: Cristina Alonso, Alexandra Boné, Elena del Blanco, Sandra Franquesa


The activity of this research group is committed on either, the maintenance and propagation of existing genetic variability, or the generation of new resources, thorough the application and development of plant in vitro culture techniques. This laboratory has been conceived as a support or service to accelerate existing private or public plant breeding programs, working on extensive crops, ornamentals, vegetables, and fruit tree species of interest for the main agricultural producing areas, food and pharmaceutical industry. Our research is focused on improving or setting up the techniques required to accomplish the objectives for each plant species. Micropropagation, which provides a rapid multiplication of newly selected individuals, is mainly applied on rootstocks or varieties, of recalcitrant species, selected from field plots or out of breeding programs. It is also applied to clone the plant material produced through the other techniques. Embryo rescue has been developed to assists on the recombination of genotypes limited by certain developmental restrictions, from distant inter-specific crosses, or on the recovery of plants from crosses between early ripening varieties. Generation of doubled haploid lines, via androgenesis, gynogenesis, or in situ induced parthenogenesis, is oriented to accelerate vegetable breeding programs based on homozygous lines as parents for hybrid varieties. Tetraploid lines are being produced in ornamentals for their desirable morphological changes, such as strong vegetative growth, sterility, and are valuable for the production of triploid vegetable seedless fruits. In combination with molecular biology and genetic engineering, plant in vitro culture is required to regenerate plants from genetically transformed cells, mostly applied to prove the role of cloned genes. Production of cell cultures from parts of certain plant species are of interest to the pharmaceutical industry, for the presence of bioactive molecules.

Research Projects

  • Set up a methodology to produce haploid plants and doubled haploid lines from tomato and zucchini, through anther and microspore culture, or in situ induced parthenogenesis.
  • Development and transfer of a methodology to produce stable tetraploid watermelon lines.
  • Production of asparagus doubled haploid lines, homozygous for the male allele.
  • Maintenance and propagation of a melon F2 population for its field evaluation.
  • Production of plants from immature embryos out of peach and nectarine early ripening varieties.
  • Propagation of pear and peach rootstocks for their field evaluation after grafting.
  • In vitro selection of hybrid pear rootstocks and characterization for tolerance to iron deficiency in calcareous soils.
  • Regeneration of diploid plants from leaves of haploid melon lines, oriented to improve the production of fertile transgenic melon plants.
  • Generation, selection and production of cell lines from plant species with interest to the cosmetic industry.

Selected Publications

Batlle I., Echeverria G., Claveria E., Dolcet-Sanjuan R., Maillard A., Maillard L., Fontich C., Lozano L., Iglesias I., Reig G., Alegre S., De Herralde F., Carbo J., Bonany J.
The peach breeding programme IRTA-ASF: Aiming for high fruit quality
(2012) Acta Horticulturae, vol. 940, pp. 75-78

Claveria E., Asin L., Iglesias I., Vilardell P., Bonany J., Simard M.H., Dolcet-Sanjuan R.
In vitro screening for tolerance to iron chlorosis as a reliable selection tool in a pear rootstock breeding program
(2012) Acta Horticulturae, vol. 935, pp. 199-205

Menendez E., Marfa V., Claveria E., Martinez I., Pujol M., Dolcet-Sanjuan R.
Selection of Cucumis melo L. subsp. melo ‘Piel de Sapo’ lines with high efficiency in Agrobacterium-mediated genetic transformation
(2012) Acta Horticulturae, vol. 929, pp. 423-428

Moreno A., Claveria E., Pujol M., Dolcet-Sanjuan R.
Development of a methodology for the production of doubled haploid lines in Solanum lycopersicum L.
(2012) Acta Horticulturae, vol. 935, pp. 95-100