Date Palm Tissue Culture Laboratory (DPTCL)


The DPTCL, founded in February 1989, belongs to the UAE – University and took several years to reach its technical establishment.  A new and adequate facility was build in 1993.  The DPTCL receives the continuous attention of H.H. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Higher Education  and Chancellor of the UAE – University.  The DPTCL is internationally recognized as one of the major commercial Date Palm Mass Propagation Unit, thanks to the wise leadership of Mr. Hadef. B.J. Al Dhahiri, the Vice Chancellor of the UAE – University.

The application of tissue culture techniques for date palm, also called in vitro propagation, has many advantages in comparison to the two traditional techniques (seed and offshoots propagation) and enables the following:

  • Propagation of healthy selected female cultivars (disease and pest-free), Bayoud resistant cultivars, or males having superior pollen with useful metaxenia characteristics which can easily and rapidly be propagated;

  •     Large scale multiplication;

  •   No seasonal effect on plants because they can be multiplied under controlled conditions in the laboratory throughout the year;

  • Production of genetically uniform plants;

  • Clones to be propagated from elite cultivars already in existence, or from the F1 hybrids of previous selections, and seed-only originated palms;

  • Ensure an easy and fast exchange of plant material between different regions of a country or between countries without any risk of the spread of diseases and pests; and

  •   Economically reliable when large production is required.

The following are a few highlights to describe the Project’s DPTCL :

  *       Budget and Infrastructure

Annual Operational Budget

2.6 Million AED. 

Laboratory Superficy

2,400 m2

A date palm gene pool area

20 hectares

Hardening facilities             

17 Greenhouses and 7 Nurseries (5 hectares)  

Growth Chambers 

Eight (8) with 90,000 cultures capacity for each.

Working Stations for Cultures and Subcultures      

32 (16 Air Laminar flow Hoods).  


Laboratory Technicians & Assistant Technicians


Greenhouses and Nurseries Staff


Laboratory & Hardening Supervisors


Managerial Staff (Director, Assistant Director &  Financial / Administration Officer



 Production Capacity            

So far the DPTCL had produced and distributed about 400,000 date palms of different varieties (e.g: Nabt Saif, Sultana, Barhee, Rziz,…).

The actual project aims to strengthen the existing unit and targets an annual production of one million date palms as from 2008.  A second working shift is to be installed along with new laboratory extensions and buildings.

Varieties Mass Propagated

The following date palm varieties are in vitro propagated in the DPTCL:  Khlass, Barhee, Rziz, Sakii, Jech Ramli, Maktoumi, Lulu, Nmishi, Chichi, Sukkari, Khisssab, Abu Maan, Sultana, Nabt Sabif, Khadraoui, Hilali, Khenezi and a male named MY2. 

The project is implementing an annual programme to introduce new date selected varieties and to reintroduce the previous ones in order to continuously have young cultures available.

Herebelow are the phenotypic morphology of the fruits and trees of these respective date varieties (The assistance of Prof. Hassan Shabana, from the Arab Organization of Agricultural Development in providing most of the photos is highly appreciate d).

          Click here to have a look on dates kinds


Project In Vitro Technology

      The DPTCL has used Organogenesis since its establishment in 1989, as the main in vitro technique to mass propagate UAE date palm varieties.

Organogenesis technique, based on meristematic tissues potentiality, avoids callus formation and does not use 2,4-D.  Growth substances included in the media are used as low as possible.  

Organogenesis technique ensures the true to typeness of the produced date palm material. 

Indeed, Organogenesis technique used in the project’s DPTCL is totally different from the asexual embryogenesis used elsewhere.  Asexual (called also somatic) embryogenesis, is based on the callus production and multiplication, followed by the germination and elongation of somatic embryos. 

Organogenesis technique consists of 4 steps:  Initiation of meristematic buds (called also the starting step), multiplication, elongation and rooting (swelling step).

Click here to have a look on the DPTCL

Hardening off Programme

Tissue Cultures derived date palms produced at the DPTCL go through a well planned hardening off (irrigation, fertilization, disease and pest obtained for all mass propagated varieties.  This know how is made available to nationals within the project's framework as to build up national capacity.

After Distribution – follow up

The project also initiated a programme to ensure a sound follow up of the distributed date palms.  A precise technical itinerary highlighting all steps from palms delivery till after field planting is available for date growers.