Advantages of Micropropagation

  • High multiplication rates (10raise to 6 plants /year from a single explant).
  • Very small size explants can be used for micropropagation. This is impossible with conventional technique. Important when limited explant is available.
  • Material multiplied by micropropagation can be maintained in small place, packing and transport is also easy due to small size.
  • Micropropagation is the only viable method of multiplying genetically modified cells or cells after protoplast fusion.
  • In case of dioecious species, where one of the sex is more desirable then under such circumstances plants of desired sex can be selectively multiplied by this technique.
  • The output is clean, healthy and pathogen free, as during micropropagation, fungi and bacteria are usually eliminated.
  • Easy export, no quarantine problem, as plants obtained is pathogen / virus / disease free.
  • Independent of the season; can be carried out through out the year.

Technical problems in Micropropagation

Culture contamination – by bacteria, fungi, viruses is the major problem in micropropagation. Microbial contamination can be controlled by addition of antibiotics or fungicides to the culture medium. Disease free stock plants are maintained to minimize the risk.

Browning of medium – In many species (esp. woody species when explant is taken from mature tree) cut surfaces of explants leads to leaching of phenolics into the medium. Phenolics turn dark brown on oxidation and create condition called as browning of medium which is detrimental to the cultures.

This can be avoided by some do’s and don’t

  • Frequent subculturing of explant (about every 37 days)
  • A brief period of culture in liquid medium (about 3 to 7 days), it is helpful in removing phenolics and other inhibitory substances.
  • Use of antioxidants (like ascorbic acid or citric acid) may check oxidation of polyphenols.
  • Use of adsorbents (like charcoal or PVP) to adsorb polyphenols secreted in the medium.
  • Culturing in dark is another way to prevent polyphenol oxidation as light enhances it.

Limitations of Micropropagation

  • Requirement of sophisticated facilities
  • High production cost
  • Requirement of skill in handling and maintenance.
  • Somaclonal variations may arise during in vitro culture when a callus phase is involved.
  • For many valuable species suitable micropropagation techniques are not available (e.g. mango).
  • Vitrification can be a problem in some species.

Stages of micropropagation explains general procedure for micropropagation, visit to get details on the topic.