How Tissue Culture Maintains Plant Biodiversity!
How Tissue Culture Maintains Plant Biodiversity!
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EARTH: THE BEGINNING
From the beginning of life on Earth, nature has provided everything an organism needs to live and evolve. We obtain water, food, fiber, clothing material, fuel, materials to create shelters or homes, etc. We use soil for agriculture that fulfills our food demands! Because forests are being cut to accomodate humanity's recent growth, nature's balance is being collapsed!
Overexploitation of resources has a negative influence on our plant biodiversity, which intertwines together and impacts other organisms as well. It’s high time we understand the situation crisis and work towards protecting the diversity of plants.
The decline in plant biodiversity is mainly due to physical and environmental factors including land-use change, climate change, invasive species, overexploitation, and pollution. It’s necessary to preserve both agriculture and forest biodiversity, which can only be done by using plant tissue culture technology!
Plant tissue culture is a biotech technique that has application in crop improvement, germplasm conservation, rapid mass production of plants, and production of disease-free plants. The technique offers an innovative approach to conserve rare and endangered plants. This article highlights the application of tissue culture in biodiversity conservation and three in vitro methods of conservation of plants. Let’s learn more about it.
Related: PCT Starter Kit
In vitro technology for Biodiversity conservation
The biodiversity can be observed by two methods: ex-situ conservation and in situ conservation. Ex-situ conservation is transferring the animals or plants from the threatened natural habitat to a new wild are having human control. It includes Biological Gardens, Seed bank, Gene bank, Germplasm bank, and In-vitro storage. In situ conservation is preserving organisms at their original place, which includes national parks, biosphere reserves, and sanctuaries. However, these methods alone are not sufficient to preserve the species.
Tissue culture technology is the most modern method to preserve crop, ornamental, medicinal, and rare or endangered plant species. It’s especially useful for plants that either prefer vegetative propagation or do not produce seeds.
How it can be done?
1. The first step in tissue culture propagation is the collection of plant materials for propagation purposes. In vitro technology allows collecting material from any kind of plant. But, what kind of materials need to be collected for a particular plant, depends on its species.
For example, seeds are preferable material for plants producing orthodox seeds and in the case of the absence of seeds or improper seed development, zygotic embryos or vegetative tissues, like bud woods, shoots, apices, or leaves, can be collected.
2. The second step is to propagate plants using the collected plant material. In vitro seed germination is a rapid means to multiply rare and endangered orchids. Many endangered native Brazillian species are protected using seed germination, micropropagation, somatic embryogenesis, zygotic embryo culture, and callus culture systems. The techniques are also perfect for germplasm conservation.
Somatic embryogenesis is mainly used for the mass production of forestry species and the development of artificial seeds, which make planting and handling much easier. Artificial seeds facilitate the storage and transport of samples.
The best part about in vitro propagation is that it only required a few tissues to regenerate thousands of clones. It’s best for endangered or rare plants in which a big chunk of a plant can not be used for vegetative propagation, or not much plant material is available! Isn’t it fascinating!!
3. The best thing about in vitro propagation is that it allows the storage of collected plant materials for 2-3 years without subculture! But, it definitely varies according to plant species and the technique you use for the process.
And, conservation is the next step in preserving plant biodiversity using in vitro technologies.
3 TYPES OF CONSERVATION
Three types of conservation methods are available today: short-term, medium-term, and long-term conservation. These methods work magically in slowing down the growth of cultured plants that easier their storage and international transportation.
- Short-term and medium-term conservation are regular methods in laboratories to increase the time interval between subculturing. It’s done by either modifying the culture medium or environmental conditions. The culture medium can be modified by dilution of mineral elements, reduction of sugar concentration, changes in nature, and/or concentration of growth regulators. The environmental factors include reducing the temperature, combined or not, with a decrease in light intensity or keeping cultures in complete darkness.
- Long-term conservation is achieved by cryopreservation. It’s a process of storing plant material in liquid nitrogen that has a temperature of -196 ℃. The advantages of this method include:
- It requires less amount of material.
- It requires low maintenance
- Samples are not continuously exposed to the risk of contamination
- It’s safe and cost-efficient
In vitro technologies combined with ex-situ conservation methods can facilitate the conservation of plant biodiversity in multifold. Tissue culture offers a new improved possibility of maintaining the plant biodiversity by efficient collection, exchange, multiplication, pathogen eradication, and conservation methods.
In the coming article, we will talk more about the above-mentioned techniques of conservation and see how they are applied in labs. So, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter that will tell you about our latest blogs, videos, and tissue culture products!
- Cruz-Cruz, C., González-Arnao, M., & Engelmann, F. (2013). Biotechnology and Conservation of Plant Biodiversity. Resources, 2(2), 73–95. doi:10.3390/resources2020073
- Sinisa Franjic. Importance of Environment Protection on the Global Level. Sci J Research & Rev. 1(2): 2018. SJRR.MS.ID.000506.