The tissue culture laboratory and nursery, located at the Guam Department of Agriculture (DOA), is a very unique place. The public can bring their sickly-looking orchids and exchange them, free of charge, for healthy Phalaenopsis or Dendrobium seedlings or mature plants.
The tissue culture team has one full time employee, Alexander Chingyan, and a part time tissue culture assistant Kamile Wang. They are both experienced in growing orchids and bananas in vitro and in the nursery. The lab hires and trains several students every year. Presently Alyanna Del Rosario and Jaena Taitagua work part time at the lab. Edwina Chiroo joined the team recently, and she has a lot of enthusiasm in working with orchids.
Ricardo Lizama from DOA and Alicja Wiecko from the University of Guam started this project, “Growing disease-free orchids on Guam”, in 2013. Their work has been presented at many conferences including the American Society for Horticultural Sciences and last year at the 22nd World Orchid Conference in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
At the DOA laboratory new orchids are propagated from disease-free orchids previously tested for two common viruses, Cymbidium mosaic virus and Odontoglossum ringspot virus. These viruses infect more than 60% of local orchids and 30% of imported orchids.
When visitors come to the nursery they will find thousands of orchid seedlings planted in small pots and hundreds of medium-size and mature orchids growing in larger pots. Some orchids have already produced seedpods, which are ready to propagate on a special medium where they will eventually germinate.
In the laboratory growth room shelves are crammed with hundreds of containers holding miniature Phalaenopsis and Dendrobium seedlings growing on agar. The tiny plants produced by the tissue culture team are free of viruses.
If you would like to learn how to grow healthy orchids in the nursery, or how to propagate them in the laboratory through tissue culture, you can sign up for free course lasting one to two weeks. During that time, you will learn the basics of growing orchids “in glass” and receive an “Orchid Grower” certificate.
For more information, please contact Alicja Wiecko, at 735-2132 or firstname.lastname@example.org