Micropropagation at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh

A micropropagation unit has been set up at the RBG Edinburgh. It is a facility which has been long planned and at last money has been found to enable it to go ahead. A bequest was left to the garden by 'Mr. Ferguson' who had a great interest in both the botanic gardens and also in a particular group of plants - the Cactaceae.

Initially the unit will be small, involving probably a maximum of two people. The main purposes will be to provide a service for the scientific work at RBG and for the living collections.

One aspect will be the propagation of rhododendrons, many of which are diseased, or are original introductions by plant collectors such as Rock and Forrest from the early 20th century and no longer respond to conventional propagation techniques.

Many plants are infected with virus (e.g. Liliaceae and Primulaceae), so cleaning these up will be among some of our first projects.

Propagation of rare and endangered species will be a feature of the unit once techniques are established, as much of the work at RBG is involved in conservation of species.

The unit will also be collaborating on current work being undertaken at Edinburgh  such as the Conifer Conservation Programme, a linked scientific and horticultural project, with the aim of establishing breeding populations of rare and endangered conifers in cultivation to ensure their future conservation and possible re-introduction.

Currently we are trying to establish contact with as many people and organisations as possible to exchange information and publicise our existence, so any help in this area would be greatly appreciated.

Dr Hans Sluiman, Faith Nelson. Royal Botanic Garden, Inverleith Row, Edinburgh, EH3 5LR, UK. Tel: 031 552 7171, Fax: 031 552 0382