STUDY PLANT MICROPROPAGATION and TISSUE CULTURE
Tissue culture involves growing plants from very small sections (sometimes microscopic) in a laboratory. It is a propagation method which is being increasingly used. Tissue culture is not appropriate for many plants, but for others such as orchids, some indoor plants and in particular, many new plant varieties, it is a very popular propagation method.
There are nine lessons as follows:
- Introduction including a review of basic plant nutrition.
- Plant Nutrients.
- The Laboratory
- Micropropagation Techniques
- Plant Hormones
- The Tissue Culture Environment
- Commercial Applications
- Taking Plants out of Culture
- Culture of Selected Species
SUMMARY OF COMPETENCIES DEVELOPED
On successful completion of the course you should be able to do the following:
- Explain the nature of plant growth processes, in the tissue culture environment.
- Determine growing media to use for tissue culture.
- Specify appropriate micropropagation procedures for different purposes.
- Explain the management of environmental control equipment used in tissue culture.
- Design a layout for a commercial tissue culture facility.
- Determine appropriate commercial applications for tissue culture.
WHAT THE COURSE COVERS
You will learn a wide variety of things, through a combination of reading, interacting with tutors, undertaking research and practical tasks, and watching videos. Here are just some of the things you will be doing:
- Describe botanical terms which may be relevant to tissue culture.
- Explain different physiological processes which are relevant to tissue culture, including:
- Differentiate between different types of plant tissue, including:
- Describe the stages of plant growth during tissue culture of a specified plant.
- Explain the roles of the major and minor nutrients in tissue culture.
- Explain how five different specified plant hormones can be used in tissue culturing plants.
- Explain the functions of different types of components of media, including:
- Growth regulators
- Amino acids
- Differentiate between appropriate applications for both liquid and solid media.
- Compare two different specified formulae for tissue culturing, formulated for two different plant genera.
- Explain fifteen different terms relevant to micropropagation procedures, including:
- in vitro
- hardening off
- Describe different methods of shoot proliferation used in tissue culture.
- Explain a method of sterilisation for plant tissue in an operation observed by you.
- Distinguish between tissue culture operations which use different plant parts, including:
- Shoot tip
- Describe the steps in producing a plant by tissue culture, observed by you in a commercial facility.
- Explain how to remove a specified plant from tissue culture, into open culture.
- Compile a resource file of twenty different suppliers of environmental control equipment.
- Determine guidelines for establishing an appropriate, controlled environment, for growing a tissue culture.
- Describe two different greenhouse management methods for acclimatising tissue cultured plants.
- Explain how knowledge of short-day, long-day and day-neutral plants is relevant to tissue culture.
- Explain methods of ensuring water used in tissue culture is pure and sterile.
- Determine the equipment needed to set up a tissue culture laboratory.
- Describe the functions of the equipment listed.
- Develop on-going maintenance guidelines for a tissue culture facility which has the range of equipment listed.
- Determine consumable materials required for the day-to-day operation of a specified tissue culture facility.
- Determine the minimum skills needed to set up a tissue culture laboratory.
- Write a job specification for a tissue culture technician, which identifies skills needed in that job.
- Draw a floor plan to scale, for a workable tissue culture laboratory, designed for a specified purpose.
- Describe commercial micropropagation methods for three different plant genera.
- Distinguish between the unique requirements for successful micropropagation of six different specified genera.
- Analyse, from research, the use of tissue culture for plant breeding.
- Determine criteria for assessing the commercial viability of using tissue culture for propagating a given plant.
- Determine the number of plants of a specified plant variety which would need to be cultured, in order to make tissue culturing of that plant commercially viable.
- Assess the commercial viability of a specified tissue culture enterprise.
WHAT IS NEEDED?
Serious, large scale, commercial tissue culture does require a significant financial investment; but you do not need to make such an investment in order to do this course. You can even set up and start doing some tissue culturing at home, if you are prepared to be a little creative and put some time and effort into creating some improvised equipment at home. We have seen students get started with investments that are less than the course fees.
Once you know and understand how to do tissue culture; it is possible to generate serious income from growing plants this way. We have known people who have made a full time income from what they can grow in a single converted room inside their house; together with a small greenhouse in their garden.
Three distinct areas are required in any tissue culture laboratory, no matter how small or large the overall operation is. These areas maybe separated (different rooms perhaps), however in smaller commercial operations the can be in the large room. Size is important depending on the scale of the operation as aforementioned. For the modest hobby enthusiast any suitable working space in a home kitchen, garage or shed can also be made suitable if clearly planned and designed work area are prepared in advance:
Consider the following as the 3 distinct areas:
1. The Preparation Area
Commonly would include: a sink with hot and cold water, a refrigerator, a dishwasher, a stove/ Bunsen burner or something to heat the media, and easy-to-clean benches to work on.
2. The Transfer Chamber
This is a sterile (100% clean) box or hood where plant tissue can be placed into the culture medium, divided and transplanted from one container to another etc. A continuous flow of air through the cabinet is provided in one direction, to pick up and carry away any disease organisms before they can settle on the plants being cultured.
3. The Culture Growing Area
A sealed, warm, clean, well lit compartment or room is used to hold the containers in which the cultures grow.
Minimum Case Scenario
The hobbyist may start using a kitchen or laundry at home (obviously with everything sterilized); equipped with a home made transfer chamber (laminar flow cabinet) and a shelf or bench with a grow – light (artificial lighting). This can be sufficient to get started; provided everything is kept sterile.
The Media Preparation Area
This is similar to a kitchen. In a commercial facility it would commonly contain:
- A sink with running hot and cold water
- Refrigerator –size depends on scale of operation. It is best to restrict this refrigerator to laboratory use only (keeping staff lunches in the same fridge increases risk of contamination)
- Dishwasher –Again use for the laboratory only. Don’t use for washing the staff’s lunch dishes. A dishwasher is a non essential expense for a new, small operation; but can save time and cost washing glass wear in a larger commercial operation.
- Stove or Bunsen burner – A portable gas bottle connected to a Bunsen burner is adequate; but be careful about bringing contaminants into the laboratory when changing gas bottles. Either pipe the gas in from outside, or sterilize the bottle surfaces before bringing it into the preparation area.
- Autoclave (Pressure Cooker)
- Benches –These needs to be easy to clean. The floor and walls should also be easy to clean. If you have tiles, be careful to not let mould grow in the grout. There should be enough bench space for all the equipment you plan to use (e.g. pH meter, autoclave, glass wear, Bunsen burner, scales, jars of chemical, etc) plus ample extra space to work.
- Windows are acceptable; but these are best to be sealed. Contaminants can enter a room even through fly wire screens.
- All surfaces (including walls, floors and ceilings) should be light coloured, so that any contaminants can be seen readily, and they are therefore easier to keep clean.
Reasons to Study This Course
This course provides a thorough insight into tissue culture. It does not include laboratory supervised work although students are encouraged to visit a laboratory if they can. Those taking this course will also need a microscope or strong hand held lens and access to some basic equipment, such as scalpels. Graduates will be able to add tissue culture to the propagation techniques they can undertake. The course has most appeal to those working in, or aspiring to work in, the following areas:
- Nursery & Propagation
- Tissue Culture Laboratory
- Market Gardening
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