There are few flowering plant species that have been as embraced by the economic and cultural sectors as chrysanthemum. In Japan chrysanthemum is the imperial flower and is only transcended in spiritual and religious (Buddhist) value by the lotus flower. The Japanese culture also exquisitely utilizes chrysanthemums in the flower arranging ceremony, ikebana, harmoniously intertwined with sado, the tea ceremony and in the funeral ceremony, representing a symbol of peace. Certain chrysanthemums are edible garland/shungiku/Chrysanthemum coronarium), while others produce valuable secondary metabolites such as pyrethrin (C. coccineum or C. cinerariaefolium) or sesquiterpene lactones (C. indicum or C. morifolium). At present chrysanthemums are globally the third most important cut flower crop, after rose and carnation, with over 2 billion cut flower stems annually being used in Japan alone. In many cut flower-producing countries (primarily Colombia, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands) they are firmly rooted, and are stable income bringers in other countries. The global floricultural sector is under constant dynamic change, always seeking new varieties with enhanced characteristics to satisfy ever-increasing individualized consumer demands. Since advances in the improvement of certain chrysanthemum qualities (flower color; longer shelf-life; secondary metabolite production; stress tolerance; virus, viroid and pest resistance, inter alia) are time-consuming through conventional breeding practices, we are presently improving and dynamizing select Japanese standard and spray-type chrysanthemum (Dendranthema grandiflora/florist's daisy) through novel in vitro culture and micropropagation methods, as well as the establishment of efficient genetic transformation protocols (model and applied) with the objective of further strengthening the value of this already wealthy cultural floral asset.

Key words: biotechnolgy, chrysanthemum, culture, Dendranthema grandiflora, micropropagation