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Somatic embryogenesis (SE) faces many challenges in fulfilling the growing demand for elite materials. A high-throughput approach is required to accelerate the optimization of SE protocols by multiplying experimental conditions within a limited time period. For the first time in plant micropropagation, we have developed a miniaturized and automated screening system to meet high-throughput standards. Coffea arabica embryo regeneration, classically achieved in 250-ml Erlenmeyer flasks, was successfully miniaturized in 24-well plates, allowing a volume downscaling factor of 100 and a space saving of 53 cm2/well. Cell clusters were ground and filtered to fit the automated pipetting platform, leading to fast, reproducible and uniform cluster distribution (23.0 ± 5.5 cell clusters/well) and successful regeneration (6.5 ± 2.2 embryos/well). Pilot screening of active compounds on SE was carried out. Compounds belonging to the histone deacetylase inhibitor family were tested for embryo regeneration efficiency. Cells treated with 1 µM Trichostatin A showed a marked 3-fold increase in the number of regenerated embryos. When re-tested in 250-ml flasks, the same enhancement was obtained, thereby validating the miniaturized and automated screening method. These results showed that our screening system is reliable and well suited to screening hundreds of compounds, offering unprecedented perspectives in plant micropropagation.


Rayan Awada, Dorothée Verdier, Solène Froger, Eric Brulard, Simone de Faria Maraschin, Hervé Etienne, David Breton. An innovative automated active compound screening system allows high-throughput optimization of somatic embryogenesis in Coffea arabica. Scientific reports. 2020 Jan 21;10(1):810

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PMID: 31965007

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