Wed, Jun 18, 2014 - Page 5 News List

Researchers develop new orange orchids

By Hsieh Wen-hua  /  Staff reporter

A sprig of the “Orange Lover” variety of moth orchid developed by the Council of Agriculture’s Kaohsiung District Agricultural Research and Extension Station is shown in an undated photograph provided by the station.

Photo courtesy of the Kaohsiung District Agricultural Research and Extension Station

Using methods of distant hybridization and embryo rescue, Greater Kaohsiung’s Agricultural Research and Extension Station introduced an orange-color gene from vanda orchids into moth orchids, and has developed new varieties of pure orange colored moth orchids.

The station has already developed more than 50 combinations by hybridizing moth orchids with the orange color genes from vanda orchids.

With the developed variety “Orange Lover” successfully registered at the Royal Horticultural Society in 2012, three other types of orange moth orchids — the “Orange Girl,” the “Orange Cinderella” and the “Orange Venus” — have recently been approved by the organization, marking the start of a new chapter for Taiwan as “moth orchid kingdom,” the station said.

Station researcher Tsai Chi-chu (蔡奇助) said the moth orchid is one of the nation’s most important agricultural export products, with exports worth more than NT$100 million (US$3.33 million) a year since 2012.

Taiwan faces competition from Europe, China and Southeast Asia. especially with the Netherlands expanding efforts to collect and cross breed over the past decade, he said, adding that the Netherlands’ advanced cultivating skills and comprehensive marketing strategy has allowed it to become the largest moth orchid sprout producer in the world.

After the station’s success in breeding the new pure orange-colored orchid variety, improving the mottled orange color of moth orchids, it hopes Taiwan’s orange moth orchids will be widely accepted around the world, Tsai said.

He said that plant variety is the foundation of the industry’s development, and Taiwan must keep its advantage of developing new moth orchid varieties so that the industry can continue to be sustainable.

Moreover, Tsai said the pure orange-colored moth orchid is a cross-bred variety made through the station’s “orchid cross-breeding technique service platform,” and the platform is expected to also assist the industry to overcome obstacles in the process of hybridizing to develop new, unique moth orchid varieties.

The genome complexity of these varieties is high and they are difficult to breed using traditional hybridization methods, so there is no fear that companies in the Netherlands can produce similar varieties, he said.

Tsai added that the new varieties are expected to be unique in the market, and unlikely to suffer price competition.

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