Brief notes on the Application of Plant Tissue Culture

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(1) Micropropagation or clonal propagation:

Through the process of cell, tissue or organ culture large number of plants can be raised in small area and in less time. As all the plants developed in a tissue culture are genetically identical, this procedure is also known as clonal propagation. Banana, Begonia, cardamoms, coffee, bamboo, grapes are some examples of micropropagated plants.

(2) Production of virus free plants

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Asexually reproducing crop plants are prone to viral infection and the virus spreads through the vegetative organs for propagation like stem, tuber, rhizome etc. Cambium culture in such plants produces virus free plants.

(3) Synthetic seeds/artificial seeds

The somatic embryos/plant lets encapsulated in protective capsules of calcium alginates to prevent dessication are known as artificial seeds or synthetic seeds. These are used for rapid propagation of crop plants. The farmers can easily use them like normal seeds in their fields.

(4) Secondary metabolites production

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Plant tissue culture involving large scale cell suspension cultures are in use for commercial production of secondary metabolites like alkaloids, tannin, resin, latex etc. These would have been difficult to synthesize through chemical synthesis due to huge cost. Some of the examples of secondary metabolites produced in plant tissue cultures are given below:

(i) Taxol, an anticancer drug against ovarian and breast cancer is obtained from cultured cells Toxus. Actually the cultured cell of Taxus produces a chemical very similar to taxol which is then chemically converted to taco.

(ii) Similarly cultured cells of Digitalis lantana are used to convert digoxin to digitoxin. This is used as a drug in cardiac treatment.

(5) Embryo Rescue

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It has been observed that in some instances of inter specific crosses though pollination and fertilization are successfully completed the embryo does not develop after an initial development. In such cases, immature embryos are dissected out from the fruit (seeds) and grown in nutrient medium to develop into plant lets.

This technique of growing immature embryo is known as embryo rescue. At the International crop Research Institute for semi Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Hyderabad this technique has been used to improve pigeon pea, chick-pea, ground nut etc.

(6) Endosperm culture

Endosperm culture is employed to produce triploids. This is used to produce seedless apple, pear, citrus etc, having good commercial values.

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