The SRC’s Tissue Culture Unit has saved the nation significant sums of foreign exchange, as its activities have resulted in a decline in the volume of imported tissue-cultured plants. The Unit has also developed the capability to locally produce large volumes of healthy, disease-free plants in flexible, economic quantities. Field studies have shown that the yield per hectare of tissue cultured plants surpasses that of those propagated through traditional methods.
The major thrust of the Tissue Culture Unit is propagating and preserving plants of national and economic value. The SRC has one of the largest gene banks in the Caribbean and Central America that serves among other things, to conserve rare and endangered plants of national interest. It has a wide collection of ornamentals and orchard crops. The gene-bank allows the country to protect some of its plants from diseases and disasters, man-made or natural.
The Biotechnology Unit (formerly known as the Tissue Culture Unit) spans two divisions of the Scientific Research Council, the Product Research and Development Division and the Process Development Division. The aim of the Unit is to provide biotechnology solutions that will assist in the growth and development of the local agricultural industry. To this end, work is done in the production of disease-free planting material, conservation of local germplasm and plant disease diagnostics, among others. The Unit also partners with international agencies, such as the International Atomic Agency (IAEA), to conduct research in the area of crop improvement.