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Saturday, June 21, 2008


External Morphology of Various Embryo-Cultured
Makapuno Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) in Correlation with its Endosperm Types
Rolly B. Caidic

University of the Philippines Open University
Los Baños, Laguna

Nature and Significance of the Study
Makapuno coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) is a mutant type of coconut of Laguna Tall variety. It is a highly priced agricultural crop which creates additional income and employment opportunities for the Filipino growers through processing of various products at the household level. Local market demand for Makapuno fresh meat has reached four million kilograms a year. Yet, less than 3% of the demand is being met. Food manufacturers and fast-food chains like Jollibee have huge requirements for Makapuno. In 2004, it was exported to 41 countries (Cardona, 2006).
At present, nine government and private embryo culture laboratories are producing Embryo-Cultured Makapuno seedlings in Albay, Cavite, Pangasinan, Leyte, Davao, Zamboanga, Pasig, Tiaong, and Lipa. PCARRD established the first six laboratories, which also funded the Makapuno Comprehensive Technology Development and Commercialization Program (Cardona, 2006).
A freak type of coconut, it is characterized by its soft endosperm that almost fills the nut cavity, Makapuno has creamy, jelly-like and thick meat that is commonly used for making ice cream, and an ingredient for halo-halo, cakes, bread and pastries and other desserts (Gamil, 2007; Solomon, 1998). This is how Makapuno got its local name, from the root word “punò” meaning full (Aguiba, 2006).
Various Makapuno coconut fruit shows different internal characteristics specifically when it comes to the type of endosperm. One reason might be is because numerous ECM were produced from different laboratories, since pure (homozygous) Makapuno coconut tree does not exist in nature. Thus, several morphological and anatomical characteristics are acquired.
Embryo-cultured Makapuno palm trees show significant variation with respect to floral behaviors, fruit color, types of endosperm, fruit size, and other morphological characteristics (Islam, 2006). Since Makapuno endosperms are not always similar in character and different types are commonly obtained, the researcher would like to determine if the type of endosperm is associated with its external characteristics. To address this problem, the study was conceptualized.
Statement of the Problem
The study was conceptualized to determine the correlations of endosperm types of various embryo-cultured Makapuno coconuts (Cocos nucifera L.) to its external characteristics.
Specifically, it aimed to address the following questions:
1. Is there any significant correlation between the two given variables?
- External Characteristics
- Type of endosperm
2. What are significant external morphological characteristics of various ECM from different laboratories from the Philippines in terms of: floral behavior, fruit size, shape and color, crown shape, stem height, bole category and leaf structure?
3. What are the characteristics of endosperm types of embryo-cultured Makapuno in terms of: quantitative characters (volume, thickness, density) and; qualitative characters (texture, color, shape)?
4. What are the factors that can affect ECM propagation?
Objectives of the Study
1. Determine the external morphology of various embryo-cultured Makapuno coconut (Cocos nucifera l.) in correlation with its endosperm types
2. Identify significant external morphological characteristics of various embryo-cultured Makapuno hybrids from different laboratories from the Philippines in terms of:
a. floral behavior
b. fruit size, shape and color
c. crown shape
d. stem height
e. bole category
f. leaf structure
3. Characterize the types of endosperms of embryo-cultured Makapuno in terms of:
a. quantitative characters (volume, thickness, density)
b. qualitative characters (texture, color, shape).
4. Analyze factors that can affect embryo-cultured Makapuno propagation.
Mitra said, the Philippines can be known for producing 100 percent pure Makapuno. What we want to do is to make it known as a world-class product, something we can be known for as a country because we’re the only one who can produce that (as cited in Aguiba, 2008).
In order to achieve this, the goal of this concept paper is to develop standard morphological characteristics of high-market-value Makapuno crops. If we could determine close relationships between the external characteristics and the endosperm types of Makapuno then we could start focusing our efforts on propagating 100% EMC with desirable and globally acceptable palm trees.

Review of Related Literature
Morphology of Coconut
According to Microsoft Encarta (2008):
Coconut, common name for the fruit of a tree of the palm family is widely distributed in tropical regions. The tree, called coconut palm, has a cylindrical trunk about 45 cm (about 18 in) in diameter and can grow up to 30 m (100 ft) high, with many rings marking the places of former leaves. At the summit it bears a crown of about 20 pinnate leaves that generally curve downward, each of which is about 3 to 4.5 m (about 10 to 15 ft) long. The fruit grow in clusters of 10 to 20 or more nuts; and 10 or 12 of these clusters, in different stages, may be seen at once on a tree.
The mature coconut, about 30 cm (about 12 in) long, is oval shaped and has a thick, fibrous outer husk and a hard inner shell. The lining, or kernel, of the inner shell is a white, oily meat that is dried to produce the commercially valuable copra. Within the kernel is a sweet-tasting, milky fluid (¶1-7).
The coconut palm belongs to the kingdom Plantae, phylum Magnoliophyta, class Liliopsida, order Arecales, family Arecaceae (formerly Palmae), genus Cocos and specie nucifera (wikipedia, 2008).
Embryo-Cultured Makapuno
The oldest method of propagating Makapuno is by planting the "kabuwig" (from same bunch). This is usually done in Laguna. This ensures that the recessive genes of the Makapuno will surface in the next generation when trees are planted near each other. The resulting trees give low yield of Makapuno due to the dominant stray pollens from normal coconuts (Vanzi, 2005; Ong, 2005).
Today, embryo-cultured technology on in vitro has become a standard practice of propagating Makapuno coconut palm trees in the Philippines and other countries. The embryo-cultured Makapuno coconut seedlings are laboratory-grown and screenhouse acclimatized seedlings (Evangelista, 2006). With embryo culture, production of healthy Makapuno plants is assured. Its embryo does not develop normally because the endosperm, which supports the germination of the embryo, is abnormal and rots when the nut matures. It needs to be “rescued” and ‘cultured,” using a special medium of sugars, hormones, and other elements in the laboratory (Cardona, 2006; Coconut Embryo, n.d.).
Makapuno has a double recessive trait that converts the coconut meat into soft endosperm coupled with absence or reduced liquid endosperm. The endosperm normally cannot be metabolized by the growing Makapuno embryo inside the Makapuno seed and therefore incapable of germination (Ong, 2005).
Satyabalan (1953) reported a peculiarity of endosperm of normal nuts in Laguna Tall in the Philippines, which sets the first report of Makapuno. Instead of normal endosperm, the kernel is white, soft and buttery (as cited in Islam, 2006 p. 31). Today, Dr. Erlinda P. Rillo, Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) tissue culture chief based in PCA’s Albay Research Center, and her team improved and perfected the embryo culture technique of the late Dr. Emerita de Guzman of the University of the Philippines Los Baños developed in the 1960s. They have optimized an embryo culture protocol that is transferable and allows for at least 50% success of all makapuno embryos planted. Before, only 10–20% success was achieved (Cardona, 2006).
Among the findings about successful in vitro culture of coconut embryos include the fact that the right age of the embryo should be 11 to 11.5 months, embryos collected from fertilized palms perform better, and shorter duration (from collection to inoculation) harvest is better (Aguiba, 2006).
Morphology of Makapuno
Successfully grown Makapuno palms produce from 75-100% Makapuno nuts if planted together and/or isolated from other coconut palms by a pollen barrier. In contrast, palms grown from normal nuts of a Makapuno-bearing palm can produce only 2-20% Makapuno nuts because they are heterozygous for the Makapuno character (Coconut Embryo, n.d.).
IPGRI (1996) described that Makapuno coconut does not form taproots but continuously produce adventitious roots from the base of the stem. Stem is un-branched, gray, smooth and erect or slightly curved, which forms swollen bulb at the base, referred to as bole. In tall varieties boles are well-developed; dwarf varieties have no boles while semi-dwarf varieties have larger boles (as cited in Islam, 2006 p. 31).
According to Ohler (1999), a single terminal bud located at the top of the stem produces stem growth. Internode length increases slowly until the full width of stem is reached, a process can take up to 4 years depending on the variety. At the terminal of the stem 30-40 compound leaves may be unfolded, defending on the variety and growing conditions. Flowering may begin 3-10 years. Cross-pollination readily occurs, producing various hybrids. Crossing between dwarf and tall varieties generally exhibit heterosis (hybrid). Pollen fertility is very high in tall and hybrid and low in dwarf and semi-dwarf varieties (as cited in Islam, 2006 p. 31).
Dr. Rillo said that with Makapuno’s greater nutrient-content especially with its high galactomannan content —a cellulosic material––compared to the ordinary coconut, the special fruit has uses for pharmaceutical and personal care products (Cardona, 2006; Aguiba, 2006). Its fatty acid composition is more significant than the ordinary coconut including caproic (C6), 0.61 percent compared to 0.41 percent for the ordinary coconut; capric (C10), 7.34 percent against 7.21 percent; lauric acid (C12), 50.06 percent against 47.63 percent; and myristic (C14), 18.36 percent against 15.26 percent (Aguiba, 2006).

Conceptual Framework

Figure 1
This illustrates the interrelationships of the two variables: Significant External Characteristics (floral behavior, fruit size, shape and color, crown shape, stem height, bole category and leaf structure) and Endosperm Type (quantitative characters and qualitative characters). These two variables are enabled by the cycle of propagation starting from planting Makapuno embryo until improved Makapuno yields.

Research Design
The study will use the correlational studies technique to find statistical connections, or correlations, between variables so that some factors can be used to predict others. This will be supplemented with correlational evidences such as case studies, direct observations, documentary analysis and descriptive method of research to determine the correlation between the external morphology of various embryo-cultured Makapuno and its endosperm types.
Sampling Design and Technique
The respondents are chosen using purposive sampling method wherein according to Calmorin (1995) is based on choosing individuals as part of the sample because a good evidence that he is representative of the total population.
Selection of Respondents
All concerned farm owners, laborers and agriculturist from laboratories and plantations who were involved in the propagation of various embryo-cultured Makapuno in the Philippines were selected respondents.
Data Gathering Procedure
A guide questionnaire will be used in this study. The questionnaires is used to gather personal information from respondents, process of tissue culture, factors that affect germination of Makapuno, physical characteristics of endosperms, and problems encountered in the propagation.
Interview and direct observations are done to determine the external morphology of the various ECM and its endosperm types. These procedures will be done at the available time and convenience of the respondents while they are in the garden or plantation.

Other Print Source
Islam, N. (2006). Morphometric Characterization of the UPLB Makapuno Coconut (Cocos nucifera L) Population and the Influence of Fruit Age and Endosperm Type on In Vitro Embryo Germination. (Doctoral dissertation, University of the Philippines Los Baños 2006)
Electronic Sources
Aguiba, M. (2006). Export potential of Makapuno cited. Manila Bulletin Online. Retrieved February 15, 2008, from
Aguiba, M. (2005). Makapuno propagation: PCA taps private sector in embryo culture. Manila Bulletin Online. Retrieved February 15, 2008, from
Cardona, E. (2006). PCA-Albay to make Bicol coconut and makapuno hub: Embryo-cultured Makapuno. Palm Guide. Retrieved February 15, 2008, from
Cardona, E. (n.d.). PCA-Albay: breathing life into coconut R&D. Philippine Coconut Authority. Retrieved February 17, 2008, from
Evangelista, R. (2006). Makapuno Comprehensive Technology Development and Commercialization Program. Philippine Council for Agriculture, Fisheries and Natural Resources Research and Development. Retrieved February 18, 2008 from
Gamil, J. (2007). ‘Makapuno’ scientist bags ‘Gawad Saka’ award. Inquirer.Net – Inside Science. Retrieved February 15, 2008, from
Redmond, WA (2008). Coconut. Microsoft® Student with Encarta [DVD]. Microsoft Corporation, 2008.
Ong, R. (2005). Makapuno propagation. The Philippine STAR Online. Retrieved February 17, 2008, from
Philippine Coconut Authority (n.d) Coconut Embryo-Culture for the Propagation of Makapuno Seedlings. Retrieved February 15, 2008, from
Solomon, C. (1998) Encyclopedia of Asian Food. Australia: New Holland Publishers Pty Ltd. Retrieved February 20, 2008, from
Vanzi, S. (2005). Makapuno propagation. Philippine Headline News Online. Retrieved February 17, 2008 from

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