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Facilities Management & Maintenance Unit

The Facility Management and Maintenance Unit within the Plant Protection Directorate is responsible from the facility management of the Plant Biotechnology Centre. These responsibilities include the maintenance of the precincts, the Health and Safety risk assessment, upkeep of the glasshouse, shade house, screen houses, plastic house and public garden at the Plant Biotechnology Centre.

Maintenance of the Precincts of the Plant Biotechnology Centre

One of the important roles of the Facility Management and Maintenance Unit is to maintain all areas falling within the precincts of the Plant Biotechnology Centre at all times. Such task involves that all areas are constantly kept well maintained with routine maintenance throughout the year.  This section is also responsible for the Energy Performance Certification and the cleaning of outdoor areas. 

Health and Safety Risk Assessment

The Facility Management and Maintenance Unit is also responsible for the implementation and adherence to the Health and Safety Risk Assessment. This risk assessment covers all employees at the Plant Biotechnology Centre. The scope of such an assessment was to identify any hazards which might be present at the place of work, thus ensuring maximum safety with on-going measures and actions in order to minimize possible hazards. 

Glasshouse

The scope of the glasshouse at the Plant Biotechnology Centre is threefold. The Facility Management and Maintenance Unit serves as a service provider to other sections within the Plant Protection Directorate. These include the Diagnostic Laboratories and the Seeds and Propagation Material Unit. Apart from this, a variety of indoor plants are propagated in the glasshouse.

This modern computer controlled glasshouse was built through financial aid from the IV Italian financial protocol and has a total area of 910 m2. Vents are opened and closed according to the required temperature and climatic conditions, with shading facilities both on the inside and on the outside to control the light intensity. The outside shading is always fixed and its use is to protect the glasshouse from hail as well as shading. The inside shading can be opened or closed, depending on the light intensity. Work related to this glasshouse consists mainly of the following: 

1.      Work carried out at the Plant Tissue Culture Laboratory

2.      Work carried out at the Virology Laboratory 

3.      Propagation of Ornamental Plants

4.      Compost mixing, filling, transplanting and cleaning of pots

 

Work Carried out in the Plant Tissue Culture Laboratory

This compartment is complementary to the Plant Tissue Culture Laboratory where acclimatisation of plants is carried out. Plants producing roots in the laboratory are then ready for acclimatisation. Acclimatisation is the process by which plants are adapted to the ambient conditions before being transferred into the fields. This is delicate work which requires great care and it is carried out in the acclimatisation part. The acclimatisation process starts by removing the plants from the agar and they are then immersed into a lukewarm fungicide solution in a container for a short period. The plants are then transplanted in trays filled with new compost. Trays with plants move on to being transferred under a plastic tunnel where they are then watered and misted with a fungicide. The tunnel is closed completely to maintain high humidity levels. After around one week the tunnel is opened for a few minutes each day. The opening time is increased slowly from day to day so that the humidity is reduced slowly and the plants start to be adapted to the glasshouse ambient conditions.

Work carried out in the Virology Laboratory

The second compartment is the diagnostic compartment and is complementary to the Virology and Bacteriology Laboratories. This compartment is used for biological tests, that is, mechanical transmission onto herbaceous plants or indexing on woody plants. In this compartment, herbaceous indicator and indexing plants are propagated at regular intervals to keep a stock of these plants all year round. This part is further divided into smaller compartments to facilitate the execution of these biological tests. One of these compartments is used for the production of endemic and ornamental plants.

Propagation of Ornamental Plants

Another function of the Facility Management and Maintenance Unit is the propagation of ornamental plants which varies from time to time. The present stock includes includes varieties such as Saintpaula Ionantha (African Violets), Nephrolepis Cordifolia (Ferns), Ficus Benjamina (Weeping Fig), Philodendro Tuxla (Elephant Ears), Epipremnum Aureum (Scindapsus Golden Pothos) Chlorophytoum Comosum (Spider Plant), Hibiscus Rosa-Sinensis (Rose of China), Sansevieria Trifasciata (Snake Plant) and other plants. These plants are either sold to the general public or donated/loaned to government departments and other entities. 

Compost mixing, filling, transplanting and cleaning of pots

The third compartment is used for compost mixing, filling, transplanting and cleaning of pots. Compost is used for plant acclimatisation while a compost mixture is made from compost, sand and soil which is sieved and sterilised for the production of herbaceous indicator plants.

Shade house

Towards the centre of the premises there is a shade house having a total area of 600 m2 which is utilised for the final stage of acclimatisation. The shade house is a sort of greenhouse which is covered with shading material to protect the plants from the bright sunshine and strong winds. After the plants are acclimatised in the glasshouse, they are taken to this shade house for hardening off prior to being transferred to the open environment. Part of this shade house is utilised by the Parks Department within the MESDC and Nature Trust.

Plastic and Screen Houses

The plastic house with a total area of 120m2 is used for the propagation of mother plants and for the collection of seeds of herbaceous indicator plants. The screen houses having a total area of 429m2 are used for the conservation of positive controls, quarantine and healthy plants. These are made of greenhouse frames covered by a double layer of net to prevent any invasion from insects.