Somatic Embryogenesis, Genetic Modification, and GMOs at the Department of Plant Biotechnology and Cytogenetics at the IHAR

Janusz Zimny, Sławomir Sowa


At the Plant Breeding and Acclimatization Institute, National Research Institute (IHAR), research on plant tissue cultures began in 1970s. Some in vitro methods, such as anther cultures or isolated microspore cultures, have been directly used to produce homozygous lines in plant breeding. These methods are also a prerequisite for genetic manipulation for both scientific and practical purposes. Here, we describe the achievements of the Department of Biotechnology and Cytogenetics over the last few decades in the area of somatic embryogenesis of cereals, genetic modifications, GMO detection and identification, and GMO legislation. This long-term research on plant regeneration systems has led to the development of the first transgenic triticale plants in the world and the first transgenic plants in Poland, which was followed by a multi-generation study of triticale transgene stability. The gene flow of transgenic triticale and transgenic maize investigated in field studies under Polish environmental conditions, as well as the evaluation of triticale pollen flow, provided scientific data for the development of coexistence measures and GMO risk assessment in case of plant authorization for cultivation. Based on the experience gained over the years, a GMO Controlling Laboratory was established to support the official control of GMOs in Poland and the EU. It was later nominated as one of the National Reference Laboratories collaborating with the Joint Research Center (JRC) of the European Commission, providing scientific and technical support in areas related to health and consumer protection. The GMO Controlling Laboratory is accredited by the Polish Center for Accreditation according to the ISO 17025 standard, ensuring high-quality analyses and flexible accreditation scope. It participates in the ongoing debate in Poland and the EU on the legal aspects of new genomic techniques in plant breeding through publications, lectures at scientific conferences, and by providing expertise to relevant bodies.


cereals; in vitro cultures; haploid embryos; genetic engineering; GMO control and legislation; reference laboratory for GMOs

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