SPC harvests Fiji’s first tissue culture breadfruit….and they taste great!
Friday, 13 March 2015 08:23

For the first time in Fiji’s history, scientists at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) in Suva have harvested and run taste tests on some of the breadfruits from trees sourced through tissue culture (test-tube-based plants).

As part of jointly-funded research under the Pacific Breadfruit Project, the taste-testing covered a range of high-performing, breadfruit varieties and was held by researchers at SPC’s *Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees (CePaCT).

The researchers’ aim was to identify the ‘most preferred’ varieties and characteristics that make them popular. The slightly sticky and sweet varieties were rated the highest.

One of the ‘favourite’ varieties, ma’afala from Samoa, took around three years to grow from a tissue culture to a fruit-producing tree, and the fruit took three months to mature from the flowering stage. Trees grown from root suckers also took at least three years to produce ready-to-eat fruit.

CePaCT’s Genetic Resources Coordinator, Valerie Saena-Tuia, said this breakthrough supports development of the value chain system for clean and efficient mass production of plantlets.

“It will also assist efforts to boost industry productivity and help to address food security issues in the Pacific,” said Mrs Saena-Tuia.

“In addition to identifying preferred varieties, this process has enabled our team to draw together important information on breadfruit plants. They now have expert knowledge on the timing for fruit bearing, in particular with tissue culture plants, raising breadfruit and bearing fruit traits.”

According to Mrs Saena-Tuia, there is still a lot to learn about breadfruit despite recent developments.

“Pacific Island governments want varieties of breadfruit that fruit all year round so that there is a continuous supply, which is vitally important for food security in light of climate change and also for commercial farmers and businesses based on breadfruit products.

“We need to indentify when certain varieties bear fruit, if some bear fruit all year, and determine which have the best disease and drought tolerance."

With ongoing support from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) Pacific Agribusiness Research for Development Initiative (PARDI) which-funds the Pacific Breadfruit Project (piloted in Fiji), SPC works closely with Koko Siga Pacific, Fiji's Ministry of Agriculture, the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji and Nature's Way to evaluate the use of different types of breadfruit planting material, comparing tissue culture material with root suckers and marcotts.

The breadfruits are being evaluated for different donor-funded projects implemented by SPC under ACIAR PARDI, the New Zealand Aid Programme, the European Union Global Climate Change Alliance, the Australian Government's International Climate Change Initiative, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's Benefit Sharing, and the United Nations Development Programme. The projects target food security, agri-business and building resilience to climate change.

Ends

Photo caption:

A fruit-bearing tissue culture breadfruit tree of the ma’afala variety pictured growing in SPC CePaCT regional field genebank.

Media contacts:
Valerie S. Tuia, Genetic Resources Coordinator, SPC LRD This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Arshni Shandil, Research Technician, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Julie Lloyd, PARDI Communications - M: +61 0415 799 890.



*Background – CePaCT’s breadfruit research

CePaCT is the main centre for breadfruit development in the Pacific. From its base in Suva, CePaCT distributes plantlets of breadfruit in clean (sterile) bags to other countries.

The tissue cultures are maintained in strictly controlled laboratory conditions for conservation purposes, as well as for mass-propagation to meet the demand for planting material and food security projects by Pacific countries and project partners.

When plantlets are distributed to other countries CePaCT sends tissue culture that’s clean of any diseases and viruses. They also advise governments how long it will take before the plants bear fruit. This depends on the variety, management practices, location and environmental conditions.

CePaCT has distributed breadfruit to several Pacific countries (Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, American Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga and Marshall Islands) under the conditions of the FAO International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

Breadfruit was first established in the laboratory in 2005 as part of the protocol development by CePaCT, and results were presented and published in the first SPC-led International Breadfruit Symposium held in Nadi in 2007. Under the PARDI project, further development of the breadfruit protocol using a bioreactor system has facilitated the readiness of plantlets for field planting by about three months, and results were presented and published in the International Horticulture Conference held in Brisbane, Australia last year.  

CePaCT has a regional breadfruit collection, supported by the Global Crop Diversity Trust international regeneration project, with a field gene bank approved by the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF) for research purposes. The field gene bank consists of both root suckers and tissue culture materials.


Photo caption:

A fruit-bearing tissue culture breadfruit tree of the ma’afala variety pictured growing in SPC CePaCT regional field genebank.

Media contacts:

Valerie S. Tuia, Genetic Resources Coordinator, SPC LRD This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Arshni Shandil, Research Technician, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Julie Lloyd, PARDI Communications - M: +61 0415 799 890.