Plant tissue culture (PTC) is a generic term, which includes the cultivation of plant tissues or plantlets, cells and organs on artificial medium under aseptic and controlled environmental conditions. Its success is based on the unique capacity of plant cells to regenerate full plants via organogenesis or embryogenesis, derived from several sources like root-, leaf-, or stem-segments, floral parts or pollen.

A large number of methods leads to a high range of techniques, which bring their own requirements. Several factors are critical for success, e.g. suitable plant organ or tissue to initiate cultures have to be selected, cleaning & sterilization processes must be evaluated, properly culture media need to be adapted on plants requirements and development stages. Complete asepsis must be maintained until the plants are ready for the acclimatization. PTC requires an experienced and observant eye to select tissues for subculture. In many cases it involves a scientific approach to systematically optimize parameters: Physical (substrate, pH, lighting, temperature and humidity), chemical (culture medium formulation including nutrients, additives, organic substances like vitamins and growth regulators), biological (source of the explant, its size and vitality), and environmental (gaseous environment inside the culture vial) parameters need consideration to achieve the desired growth, differentiation and development or cellular metabolism.

Plant tissue culture allows to exploit the cellular totipotency of plant cells for a wide range of applications:

  • Offers technologies for crop improvement
    • polyploidy
    • in vitro fertilization
    • embryo rescue of hybrids
    • selection of variants
  • Micropropagation (clonal mass propagation)
  • Elimination of pathogens
  • Conservation of Germplasm
  • Production of plant-made pharmaceuticals (PMPs) or industrial phytochemicals
  • regeneration of plants for genetic engineering or cell fusions / somatic hybridizations

In vitro culture of orchids - Short overview