What is Plant Tissue Culture?
Plant Tissue Culture is a process that uses plant material in a growing medium to grow new platelets. The initial plant material is cultured and developed in a specific and tightly controlled environment.
Otherwise known as micropropagation, the Tissue Culture Process helps you to grow multiple uniform plants in quick succession.
This process is beneficial for developing countries looking to increase crop yield, a private at-home grower interested in producing consistent quality, as well as businesses looking to produce exact replicas of a species for profit.
While the process is simple, there are a few key factors that need to be in place. Without the proper sterile environment and growing medium, the tissue culture process is unlikely to be successful.
Once the new plants have been successfully propagated, they are transferred into a more natural environment, either a nursery or a greenhouse. This process is usually much quicker, and growers can produce many plants in a short amount of time. This may sound too good to be true, so what's the catch? Let's take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of the tissue culture process.
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Advantages of Tissue Culture
There are several advantages to using the tissue culture process. We already mentioned its effectiveness in helping developing countries to increase food production, but what are some other advantages that may be relevant to you?
- The new plantlets can be grown in a short amount of time.
- Only a small amount of initial plant tissue is required.
- The new plantlets and plants are more likely to be free of viruses and diseases.
- The process is not dependant on the seasons and can be done throughout the year.
- You need only a relatively small space to perform the process (ten times the plants in one-tenth of the space).
- On a larger scale, the tissue culture process helps to supply the consumer market with new subspecies and variety.
- People looking to cultivate challenging plants such as specific breeds of orchid find more success with the tissue culture process than traditional soil.
Disadvantages of Tissue Culture
- Tissue Culture can require more labor and cost more money.
- There is a chance that the propagated plants will be less resilient to diseases due to the type of environment they are grown in.
- It is imperative that, before being cultured, the material is screened; failure to pick up any abnormalities could lead to the new plants being infected.
- While the success rate is high if the correct procedures are followed, success with the tissue culture is not a guarantee. There is still a chance that the process triggers a secondary metabolic chemical reaction, and the new explants or cells' growth gets stunted, or even die off.
As you can see, the advantages do seem to outweigh the disadvantages. Sure, you may have to spend a bit more money to get your DIY tissue culture going, but the rewards certainly outweigh the initial cost. So, let's take a look at the Tissue Culture Process and see if we can break down the complicated terms into something a little more digestible.
Let's start at the beginning; there are two main types of cultures:
- Primary Culture: Healthy tissues extracted from living matter or organisms. In plant tissue culture, this could be either the leaves or other parts of the plant- depending on the protocol.
- Cultures of Established Cell Lines: This type of tissue culture involves the culturing of primary cells that have already been mutated (even from tumors or biopsies) and are replicating
What Makes Tissue Culture So Great?
Tissue culture can be used in the reproduction of a wide variety of species and has many practical applications.
By using the tissue culture process, a plant's yield can be increased dramatically, and in a short amount of time. The plant can also be genetically altered so that it becomes immune to certain diseases and viruses. The genetic modification enables growers to ensure that plants carry very specific characteristics. In many cases, businesses and individuals will propagate the plants to carry specific traits that are more profitable for their business, or more desirable for personal use.
On another note, the tissue culture process can be used to promote the survival of a rare plant or endangered species.
Lastly, the tissue culture technique relies on the plant's innate ability to rejuvenate cells quickly, and these rejuvenated cells are copies most often referred to as clones. This technique can be used in a lab with expensive and complicated equipment, or it can be simply adapted for a home DIY.