Plant tissue and cell culture describes the sterile growth and multiplication of plant cells, tissues, and organs in vitro. Plant cells cultured with nutrient media in an artificial environment can be clonally propagated at scale, to more quickly produce mature and disease-free plants. High-quality, uniform planting materials can be rapidly propagated for applications in molecular genetic engineering, plant breeding, horticultural production, and environmental conservation. Such materials can also be used for plant science, phycology, and pharmaceutical research.
In many common plant cell culture processes such as seed culture, meristem culture, callus culture, bud culture, and another culture, tissues are placed on a gel substrate such as Murashige and Skoog (often called MS media, MSO, or MS0) or Gamborg B5 medium. Tissues may also be placed into a liquid medium, as is the case with cell suspension culture. The plant culture media formulation may include macronutrients, micronutrients, vitamins and organic supplements, amino acids and nitrogen supplements, plant growth hormones and plant growth regulators (PGRs), and will vary depending on specific plant needs.
Recent developments in bioengineering and plant science have advanced plant tissue and cell culture processes.
Microbial contamination can be introduced at every stage of the tissue culture process, which may impose disastrous effects on crucial species conservation efforts. Meticulous tissue culture techniques are used with endangered, threatened, and rare plant species to quickly reproduce materials with a high coefficient of multiplication and rapid expansion from limited initial plant samples. Pathogen screening can prevent significant losses in micropropagation systems, enhancing production efficiency and improving output quality for conservation efforts. Plant tissue culture media that incorporates pathogen screening can help to diagnose, treat, or prevent future contamination, and facilitate faster production of mature and disease-free plants.
Plant secondary metabolites are made up of complex phytochemical components that provide protective or non-essential functions to plants, but may be of significant medicinal value to humans. When applied at the ideal stage of development, elicitors such as plant growth regulators (PGRs) can support cell growth and trigger secondary metabolic pathways that stimulate plant regulatory responses in phenolic and flavonoid synthesis. Plant-derived products such as flavors, fragrances, alkaloids, pigments and pharmaceuticals are of considerable value. Plant tissue culture techniques can support a cost-effective, sustainable, and controlled means of production of these products, time to market and expedite commercial applications.
Plant tissue culture techniques can be used in plant breeding efforts to meet growing global food demands. Protoplast isolation and culture allows plant breeders to overcome the challenges of traditional breeding and to facilitate gene transfer that permits testing for desirable characteristics. Protoplasts are cells which lack cell walls and can be used in plant tissue culture systems to regenerate whole plants from a single cell. Crop improvement efforts to increase quality, quantity and efficiency for agricultural crop production can achieve desired hybrids using protoplast fusion, isolation and culture despite incompatibility issues in traditional plant breeding.