Plants (Basel). 2023 Aug 18;12(16):2983. doi: 10.3390/plants12162983.
Paris polyphylla var. yunnanensis is an endangered medicinal plant endemic to China with great economic importance for the pharmaceutical industry. Two significant barriers to its commercial development are the long duration of its seed germination and the frequency of interspecific hybridization. We developed a method for clonal propagation of Paris polyphylla var. yunnanensis and successfully applied it to selected elite wild plants, which could become cultivar candidates based on their biomass production and saponin content. In comparison to the traditional method, somatic embryogenesis produced an average of 63 somatic embryos per gram of callus in just six weeks, saving 12 to 15 months in plantlet production. The produced in vitro plantlets were strong and healthy and 94% survived transplanting to soil. Using this method, four candidate cultivars with diverse morphologies and geographic origins were clonally reproduced from selected elite wild accessions. In comparison to those obtained with the traditional P. polyphylla propagation technique, they accumulated higher biomass and polyphyllin levels in rhizomes plus adventitious roots during a five-year period. In conclusion, somatic embryogenesis-based methods offer an alternate approach for the rapid and scaled-up production of P. polyphylla, as well as opening up species conservation options.