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Scientific Support Officer, tissue culture

  • Carries out experiments on somatic embryogenesis of Larix ssp. and assesses the results.
  • Carries out experiments on the cryopreservation of Larix ssp. assesses the results.
  • Carries out experiments on the micro-propagation of the common ash (Fraxinus excelsior L.) as well as other tissue culture aspects and assesses the results.
  • Advises on flowering in conifers, and also organises and advises on the harvest and storage of conifer pollen and conifer seeds, in support of tree breeding operations.

Margaret O’Donnell joined Forest Research in 1977 and was until recently was engaged in research on somatic embryogenesis and cryopreservation of Sitka spruce, and now is working on the tissue culture of larch species and the common ash. She also advises on aspects of conifer flowering, pollen collection and seed management.


  • Chiefly responsible for the FR-NRS plant tissue culture laboratory.
Scientific Support Officer
Forest genetics

Forest Research

Northern Research Station


Midlothian EH25 9SY


Other Research

Assisting in the development of tissue culture methods and protocols for Japanese and hybrid larch (Larix kaempferi and Larix × eurolepis), with a view to using these methods to help develop material that is resistant to larch die-back caused by Phytophthora ramorum. This is in cooperation with Marie-Anne Lelu-Walter of the INRA Forest Tree Genetics and Physiology research unit, France

Assisting in the development of tissue culture methods and protocols for the common ash (Fraxinus excelsior L.) as part of the Living Ash Project, see also

Conifer breeding at FR

Conifer breeding Co-Op

Peer reviewed journal articles

Fenning, T.M., O’Donnell, M., Connolly, T. and Park, Y.S. (2016). Prospects for using somatic embryogenesis and cryo-preservation of Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis (Bong.) Carr.) in the UK. Scottish Forestry 70 (2), 41-49 (Autumn 2016 issue).