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Genomics and Biology. Biotechnology and genomics.
Plant Tissue Culture

The growing demand for energy for mass propagation of trees led to developing the technique which is known as plant tissue culture. It allows whole plants to be produced from minute amounts of plant parts like the roots, leaves or stems or even just a single plant cell under laboratory conditions.

The father of plant tissue culture is French botanist George Morel who discovered the technique in 1965 while he was attempting to obtain a virus-free orchid plant. Thereafter, the commercial use of the technology started in the 1970s in advanced countries. In earlier stages, the concept was restricted to laboratory and academic interest and at best, it was earlier used to develop ornamental plants and flowering plants for export. But in most developing countries, the shortage of biomass and the ever-increasing energy requirements created the need to explore possibilities of mass propagation of trees by tissue culture.

Tissue culture or mass cloning methods of elite tree species is done for increasing land productivity. They are being modified or adapted for large-scale modification and increasing the yield and productivity. The concept has great relevance for many developing countries such as India where agriculture still remains predominant profession and requires adoption of new technologies to increase production.

Generally the species are selected for tissue culture based on the following considerations:

Species of plants that have regeneration problems, especially because of poor seed quality (as in banana, Irish potato and bamboo). In these cases, seeds collected from superior trees are used for initiating cultures and increasing production.

Species where plants of any one particular sex is of commercial importance, for example female plants of papaya and male plants of asparagus. In these cases, culture is initiated with specific seeds of the plant having commercial value. In tissue culture cells, tissues, and organs of a plant are separated. These separated cells are grown especially in containers with a nutrient media under controlled conditions of temperature and light. The cultured plant requires a source of energy from sugar, salts, a few vitamins, amino acids, etc. that are provided in the nutrient media. From these cultured parts, an embryo may develop, which then grows into a whole new plant.

Tissue culture plants have poor photosynthesis efficiency and lack the proper mechanism to control water loss. They need to be hardened gradually by moving them along a humidity gradient in the greenhouse. Once these plants are in the research fields, they are evaluated under field conditions. A large number of tissue culture plants that have grown into trees are remarkably uniform and show an increase in biomass production over the conventionally raised plants.

Tissue culture is used for rapid vegetative multiplication of plant material which is also known as micropropagation as well as for production of disease free and pest resistant plant.

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