Ecuadorian company reproduces endangered orchid species

Jun 6, 2022Bioamazon Project, Biodiversity, News, Sustainable Development

Ecuagenera performs studies and in vitro reproduction for the survival of species that were about to disappear, in addition to promoting the ex situ conservation of orchids

The Bioamazon Project supports Ecuador in developing a strategy for the implementation of the Orchid Route. In April, several orchid producers were visited, among them, the Ecuagenera company, which is the largest producer of orchids, not only  in Ecuador but also worldwide. The company’s main headquarters is in the Province of Azuay, south of the Andes, 40km from Cuenca, in Gualeceo. It is a privileged area with an average altitude of 2,200 m.a.s.l. and temperature of 17oC, which allow the cultivation of orchids from the different Ecuadorian microclimates such as Coast, Sierra, and Eastern area and from other parts of the world.

The company has been dedicated to the conservation and reproduction of orchids since 1992 and obtained licenses to export plants from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Since then, Ecuagenera has been assessing the potential of this species and has launched a successful orchid conservation program.

The program consists of the in vitro reproduction of orchids, including endangered species, ensuring subsistence of species on the verge of disappearing and promoting the ex situ conservation of orchids. Epidendrum sodiroi Schltr is an IUCN EW species (Extinct in the Wild) that has been reproduced in the Ecuagenera laboratory, along with IUCN CR Species (Critically Endangered), including Andinia hirtzii Luer, Benzingia hirtzii Dodson ex Dodson, Encyclia angustiloba Schltr., Lepanthes pretiosa Luer & Hirtz, Lepanthes terpsichore Luer & Hirtz, Macroclinium manabinum (Dodson). More than 500 species cataloged on the IUCN list have been reproduced by Ecuagenera, according to José Portilla, President of the Company.

Orchid Andinia hirtzii. Photo: Ecuagenera


Orchid Lepanthes pretiosa. Photo: Acuagenera


Research is the company’s focus, achieving the development of in vitro propagation protocols for more than 4,200 species. The success of this program is subject to the effective and efficient application of in vitro techniques for the recovery, conservation and propagation of native orchids and orchids from all over the world.

In this sense, Ecuagenera is a key player in the Bioamazon Project and in the development and implementation of the Orchid Route. The company’s knowledge and vast experience have been essential for capacity building and the exchange of good practices in the reproduction and management of orchids with small producers in the provinces of Napo, Morona Santiago and Zamora Chinchipe that are part of the Orchid Route. In addition, results achieved have encouraged these producers to promote the responsible use of biodiversity, through biotrade, as an efficient way to conserve and increase income.

Currently, thanks to the investment in research and equipment for the biotechnology laboratory, Ecuagenera has records and databases of nutritional, environmental aspects, light requirements, among others, which are essential for the development of an orchid production system in vitro, as an ex situ conservation strategy.

Ecuagenera is one of the few companies in the world that carries out all the links in the value chain of this species and takes advantage of its derivatives through biotrade as another component of this great project. There is no doubt that the commercialization of orchids in vitro is a tool implemented through this conservation project for the protection, conservation, and sustainable use of biodiversity, promoting the sustainable trade of different varieties of orchids, as well as encouraging activities such as tours and photography, among other biodiversity services.

Orchid Macroclinium manabinum. Photo: Ecuagenera


Published in the Bioamazon Newsletter, issue n. 15, May-June 2022.


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