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ABSTRACT: Embryogenic callus was obtained only from hypocotyl explants of Astragalus adsurgens and light inhibited the formation of embryogenic callus. A high yield (1.2 x 10(6)/g F. Wt.) of protoplasts with high viability (over 80%) could be isolated from 10-day-old embryogenic callus. Protoplasts were induced to undergo sustained division and to form cell colonies when cultured in agarose-solidified medium (KMP) containing 1/4 strength of mineral salts and supplemented with 1.5 mg/L 2, 4-D, 0.5 mg/L BA and 0.5 mol/L glucose at a plating density of 1.0 x 10(5)mL, where the plating efficinency was 16.8%. Conditioning medium significantly improved the formation of cell colonies. When protoplast-derived colonies were maintained at 4 degrees C for 2 weeks and subsequently transferred onto medium (MS) with 0.1 mg/L NAA and 1.0 mg/L BA, somatic embryogenesis occurred. Frequency of cell colonies producing somatic embryos reached 70%, and the number of somatic embryos per gram cells was over 200. Cultured on hormone-free half-strength MS medium, somatic embryos developed into healthy plantlets with normal chromosome complement.