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Research into the production of polyploid and mutant clones of lavender for improved oil quality and yield - NF0526

We aim to make the UK lavender industry more competitive in the world market by developing cultivars of the species L. angustifolia, L. latifolia and their hybrid L. x intermedia. The project is in line with DEFRAs policy on Renewable Industrial Materials by impacting on the production and exploitation of lavender oil.

The project is market-led. With the collapse of the hop industry, hop growers in the UK have been encouraged to switch to alternative essential oil crops, such as lavender which can be processed by existing equipment (eg by Botanix Ltd, Paddock Wood (BOT) ). The two commercially important lavender species are L. angustifolia (low yield but good quality) or L. x intermedia (high yield but undesirable levels of camphor and cineole). The only lavender cultivars available for oil production are French and not ideally adapted to UK conditions. In response to grower demand, Botanix and Downderry Nursery (DOW) started a L. angustifolia breeding programme in 2000 to produce cultivars suitable for UK conditions. East Malling Ornamentals Ltd (EMO) specialises in the production of novel cultivars by in vitro chromosome doubling and/or mutagenesis. The project focuses on pre-competitive research and is a collaborative project between two small businesses.

The research has two approaches based on chromosome doubling and mutagenesis. It aims to generate a tetraploid clone of the L. x intermedia cultivar ‘Grosso’ which will be crossed with L. angustifolia to produce a triploid L. x intermedia clone with 2 sets of L. angustifolia chromosomes and one set of L. latifolia, lowering camphor and cineole content. A tetraploid L. angustifolia will also be generated which will enable a triploid, sterile, L. angustifolia to be bred, extending the harvest window and improving oil yield. It will also produce a low-camphor low-cineole mutant of ‘Grosso’ for short-term improvement and a low-camphor low-cineole mutant of L. latifolia as breeding material. These improvements will make UK lavender oil production much more competitive and encourage more growers to take up this relatively new crop, thus improving the rural economy. Growers will by advised of progress on the project at annual workshops.

By the end of the project, we will have
· developed protocols for the production of lavender tetraploids in vitro
· produced tetraploid clones of L. x intermedia ‘Grosso’ for field trials and of a breeding line of L. angustifolia for use in breeding
· optimised methods for the production of lavender mutants using irradiation
· produced mutants of L. x intermedia ‘Grosso’ and of L. latifolia for use in breeding
1 To develop protocols for the production of lavender tetraploids in vitro.
2 To produce tetraploid clones of ‘Grosso’ and a L. angustifolia breeding line for inclusion in the breeding programme
3 To optimise methods for the production of lavender mutants using Cobalt 60 irradiation
4 To attempt to produce low-camphor low-cineole mutants of L. x intermedia ‘Grosso’ for evaluation and L. latifolia for breeding
5 To inform growers of developments via the annual Botanix Grower’s Essential Oil Day
Project Documents
• FRP - Final Report : NF0526: Final Report Summary   (28k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2004

To: 2007

Cost: £71,984
Contractor / Funded Organisations
East Malling Ornamentals Ltd, Downderry Nursery
Arable Farming              
Fields of Study
Non-Food Crops