Plant tissue culture is the practice of propagating plants in a sterile environment. Take plant material that is suitable for initiation and sterilize it. This plant material is known as an explant. The explant is put into a sterile jar of media with nutrients and plant growth regulators which helps it multiply. Once the plant has multiplied it is taken out and multiplied further, or rooted and grown out. In a couple of months, one cutting can create tens of thousands of plants.
Plants can be manipulated in several ways using chemicals. With plant growth regulators, the plant material is manipulated to multiply, root, and grow. Plant growth regulators can make plant cells grow multiple new plantlets in a very short amount of time.
Meristem material, from the end of a stem, and other suitable parts can be made to grow many new plantlets quickly. Leaves from plants like Begonia can very quickly produce a large bundle of shoots. A large number of genetic clones of the mother plant can quickly be produced. Occasionally a new color or cultivar can be produced but it is not common. Seeds can also be for large amounts of plant tissue cultures but do not always produce the exact genetic clones.
Explants must be sterile before putting them into the growth media. Media must be sterile just as explant material must be. Work practices have to produce a sterile environment for explants and vessels. This is an absolute must. It may seem like a difficult task but it is relatively easy to accomplish with practice.
Plant tissue culture has four basic stages. The first one, and often most difficult, is initiation. Plant parts used need to adjust to these new initiation media conditions and begin to grow. Multiplication stage is where exponential growth occurs. Callus stage and multiplication stages grow new plant material either as shoots and plantlets or in the callus as a mass of undifferentiated cells to later be manipulated into more callus or plantlet shoots. Rooting is encouraged to produce a root system in order to be planted out. Plants are then hardened off so they can acclimate to life outside of the artificial conditions they were grown in.
Plant tissue culture is commonly used in large-scale terrestrial ornamental plant production, carnivorous plants, and aquatic plant production. Some of the largest plant nurseries have their own tissue culture labs. Nurseries also buy large numbers of plantlets from plant tissue culture labs to grow out and these are referred to as liners.
Another commercial practice is to contact a plant tissue culture laboratory and have them manage the process. This involves supplying the plant specimens to culture. A predetermined amount of items are contracted for production. A plant tissue culture lab would produce numerous plantlets, such as 25,000 plants a month for their customer. Upfront fees are common and payment is made when the plants were provided. This can be costly initially because of the scale of production.
This series of articles will teach you how to begin plant tissue culture at home with minimal investment. You can tailor your setup easily to your own needs and concentrate on one single plant species or a wide variety. Growing hundreds or tens of thousands of plants is a real possibility.