Thailand has now started to pay more attention to planting oil palms because palm oil, in addition to the purpose of consumption, can be used to create biodiesel. However, most palm species originated from other countries and therefore are unable to adjust themselves to Thailand’s weather conditions, which leads to low productivity.
NSTDA and BIOTEC in collaboration with Sung Sri Suk Palm Plantation in Amphur Bang Saphannoi, Prachuap Khirikhan developed the Tenera species, which is a palm species that is highly productive and able to adapt itself very well to all weather conditions in Thailand. This distinguishing quality of this species means that it does not have to be planted in humid places, which are limited to the lower South of Thailand only.
In developing this palm species, the research team conducted a genetic marking and cultured the palm tissue by using a new technique called “Organogenesis”, which is the process by which the organ at the tip of the palm tree is cultured. The result of this process is high-quality palm seeds that help with the process of identifying the perfect species and seedling production. With this technology, only 0.01% of genetic mutation was found – much lower than the 30% mutation rate when culturing plant cells.
Moreover, the research team also used the genetic marking approach to help narrow down major species from 95 to 10 species, so that they can be used in breeding seedlings which will be distributed to farmers. The newly developed species will yield up to 480 kilograms of fruit per one plant, compared to the previous 150 kilograms per plant. It will be very useful in cultivating for the purpose of creating biodiesel for internal combustion engines, in addition to being used in the food and cosmetics industries.