Passiflora edulis Sims, besides having economic and social importance, is included in the medicinal plant list that is considered of interest by the Unified Health System (Sistema Único de Saúde – SUS). Due to its high nutritional value, this species is widely used in food, cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries. It also contains carotenoids, as well as passiflorine and maracugine, which have sedative effects. The aim of this research was to assess P. edulis minimum growth conditions in different concentrations and combinations of MS culture medium and sucrose for in vitro conservation. The following variables were analyzed: Plant height; number of green and senescent leaves; and number of roots. Root height means were highest in MS media containing 30 g L-1 sucrose (8.33). With regard to plant height, the best results were obtained in MS/4 media with 15 g L-1 or 30 g L-1 sucrose, which enabled the maintenance of lower plants (5.35 and 4.91, respectively) with green leaves after 120 days in vitro culture. The MS/2 media supplemented with 15 g L-1 sucrose was the best alternative for in vitro maintenance of plants with appropriate height and number of green leaves (8.22 and 3.86, respectively). Thus, we may conclude that MS/2 with 15 g L-1 sucrose represents an efficient strategy for in vitro conservation of P. edulis plants for a culture period of 120 days and 100% survival after acclimatization.
Key words: Passion fruit, medicinal plants, in vitro culture, germplasm conservation.
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