For many orchid suppliers around the world, the variety of species of the plant is a huge factor in providing options to customers inside and outside the country. Researchers in Jakarta recently discovered 160 new orchid species all over Bengkulu.
School of Agriculture, Bengkulu University
Atra Romeida is one of the researchers from Bengkulu University. According to Atra, there have been a lot of expeditions conducted in the past with the hope of discovering more orchid species. For researchers, orchid suppliers, collectors, and enthusiasts, this means greater diversity in the plant’s species.
Since 2012, there has been up to 160 new species discovered in the area, which came as a surprise to the researchers. It showed how diverse the forests in Bengkulu are. Atra explains that some of the species are endemic in the region. It means that they do not grow in other places. This highlights how important it is to take care of the forests in Bengkulu, and the plants and animals that live in it.
As part of the efforts to preserve these newly discovered species, the group of researchers has teamed up with the National Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) to locate a site for the germplasm conservation as well as mass breeding of the plants. Tissue culture techniques would be used in the project.
Atra Romeida is also a lecturer at the university, holding a doctorate in the field. Atra teaches biotechnology and plant breeding, and explains that if left in their natural habitats, pencil orchids have the success rate of 0.1 to 1%. This means that the plant has very little chance to grow and develop from seeds all the way to maturity. In comparison, a single pencil orchid seed would be able to produce as much as 10,000 new ones through tissue culture. Atra explains that pencil orchid seeds have embryos in it, but not food reserves. Left on its own, the plant would have to struggle to provide all necessary food requirements for it to survive and eventually produce seeds.
Experts believe that this could lead to better opportunities in exporting orchids, as it is considered a valuable commodity all over the world.