Plant tissue culture is the in vitro culture of cells, tissues, organs or whole plant under controlled nutritional and environmental conditions often to produce the clones of plants. Therefore, there are many advantages of plant tissue culture.
Apart from their use as a tool of research, plant tissue culture techniques have in recent years, become of major industrial importance in the area of plant propagation, disease elimination, plant improvement and production of secondary metabolites.
Major Advantages of Plant Tissue Culture
Tissue culture itself is a very vast and wide discipline. However, this article will only focus on plant tissue culture.
The major advantages of plant tissue culture are:
1. Conservation of Endangered Plant Species
Plant tissue culture is an ex-situ method of conservation i-e. to maintain the biological material outside their natural habitat. Tissue culture is a very useful technique which allows the rapid production of many genetically identical plants using relatively small amount of space, supplies and time.
A very small piece of plant known as explant, taken from an endangered plant (at risk of extinction) can be used to produce hundreds and thousands plants in relatively short time period and space under controlled conditions, irrespective of the season and weather on a year round basis.
2. Elimination of Disease
Plant tissue culture produce disease free plants. This technique eliminates viruses and other pathogenic microbes from plant, thus minimizing the risk of devastating crop diseases.
Great potato famine in Ireland (1845-1849) caused over a million deaths in which potato crops were destroyed by a fungal disease. In modern times, it is possible to prevent such destruction by using potato seeds produced by tissue culture techniques.
3. Germ-plasm Preservation
The whole set of genetic material of a species of plant is known as germplasm of the organism. It is based on the knowledge of germplasm that various breeding techniques of plants are developed.
Hence, the storage or preservation of germplasm is important. Conventionally seeds were used to store the germplasm.
But in case, where seeds cannot be used for regeneration of plants or in cases where shoot and root tissue is not stable, it is advantageous to preserve them by using tissue culture techniques like cryopreservation.
4. Genetic Transformation
Genetic transformation is the most recent aspect of plant cell and tissue culture that provides the mean of transfer of genes with desirable trait into host plants and recovery of transgenic plants.
The technique has a great potential of genetic improvement of various crop plants by integrating in plant biotechnology and breeding programmes.
It has a promising role for the introduction of agronomically important traits such as increased yield, better quality and enhanced resistance to pests and diseases.
5. Crop Improvement
As an emerging technology, the plant tissue culture has a great impact on both agriculture and industry, through providing plants needed to meet the ever increasing world demand.
It can produce a large number of genetically identical and disease-free plantlets in relatively less time as compared to traditional agricultural methods.
6. Secondary Metabolite Production
Secondary metabolites are organic compounds produced by bacteria, fungi, or plants which are not directly involved in the normal growth, development, or reproduction of the organism.
Humans use secondary metabolites as medicines, flavorings, pigments, and recreational drugs.
Plant cell and tissue culture techniques appear as environmentally friendly alternatives for the production of secondary metabolites when natural supply is limited or chemical synthesis is nonviable.