Genetic Improvement & Rapid Vegetative Propagation in Tamarind & Pomegranate through Tissue Culture

Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology, has been emphasising the need for developing new approaches for combating drought. Mass propagation and planting of elite selections of fruit bearing trees in drought prone areas is believed toalleviate the problems of dryzones. A rich green coverage is expected to enhance the number of rainy days, improve the atmospheric humidity, reduce dessication and prevent soil erosion. The choice of fruit trees over other trees for large scale planting has the distinct advantage of serving dual purpose of providing green coverage as well as substantially supplementing the income of the people.
In this context, development of appropriate techniques for rapid and mass clonal propagation of Tamarind and Pomegranate acquires significance. Tamarind is a highly drought tolerant fruit tree grown in waste lands in semi-arid tropics. Elite selections yield as much as 200 kg per tree as against 30 to 40 kg of common types. Tamarind has many uses in addition to fruit pulp; the young leaves and flowers are edible, the heart-wood is very hard and termite resistant.

Pomegranate is another potential fruit plant, grown for edible fruits. The other plant parts are known to be used for medicinal purposes. The wide variation of potential yield is attricuted to cross pollination. In both the cases the conventional methods of propagation are inefficient in terms of times and labour. The tree plants would lead to variation in progenies as most of them are highly heterozygous due to open pollination. In vitro propagation techniques appear to provide the best alternative to conventional methods.