PLANT TISSUE CULTURE
Plant research often involves growing new plants in a controlled environment.
These may be plants that we have genetically altered in some way or maybe
plants of which we need many copies all exactly alike.
These things can beaccomplished through tissue culture of small tissue pieces from the plant of
interest. These small pieces may come from a single mother plant or they may be the result of genetic transformation of single plant cells which are then encouraged to grow and to ultimately develop into a whole plant. Tissue culture techniques are often used for commercial production of plants as well as for plant research.
Tissue culture involves the use of small pieces of plant tissue (explants) which
are cultured in a nutrient medium under sterile conditions.
Using the appropriate growing conditions for each explant type, plants can be induced to rapidly produce new shoots, and, with the addition of suitable hormones new roots.
These plantlets can also be divided, usually at the shooting stage, to produce large numbers of new plantlets.
The new plants can then be placed in soil and grown in a normal manner.
Many types of plants are suitable for use in the classroom. Cauliflower, rose cuttings, African violet leaves and carnation stems will all easily produce clones (exact genetic copies) through tissue culture.
Cauliflower florets in particular give excellent results since they can be grown into a complete plant in the basic tissue culture media, without the need for additional growth or root hormones. Green shoots are generally observable within three weeks, and roots develop within six weeks.
The most important part of this activity,
such as, to maintain as sterile an environment as possible. Even one fungal spore or bacterial cell that comes into contact with the growth media will rapidly reproduce and soon completely overwhelm the small plant piece that you are trying to clone.
1. To understand a procedure that is often used to propagate many plants of
the same genetic background.
2. To understand the importance of sterile techniques.
1 Vial of Murashige Skoog (MS) media. (If you wish to make up your own growing medium you could use the recipe for the Murashige medium given at the end of this section.)
L sterile distilled water
10 g of agar/L
30 g sucrose/L
1.5 L or 2 L container in which to prepare the growth medium small amounts of 1M NaOH and 1M HCl to adjust the pH of the media 60 flat bottom culture tubes with closures.
Glass aquarium or box lined with plastic Plastic sheet to cover the top of the aquarium Adhesive tape 10% Bleach in a spray bottle 70% alcohol in a spray bottle Forceps or tweezers Gloves Cutting equipment such as a scalpel blade or razor blade 2 bottles of sterile distilled water (purchase at the grocery store).
Pressure cooker Your chosen plant (cauliflower, rose, African violet or carnation) paper towel for cutting on or sterile petri dishes if available Beaker or jar in which to wash the plant material Detergent-water mixture – 1ml detergent per liter of water Bleach sterilizing solution – dilute commercial bleach (5-6% sodium hypochlorite) to a final concentration of 1-2% sodium hypochlorite in distilled water in a large beaker or jar.
2 or 3 beakers or jars of sterile water A well-lit area away from direct sunlight or use full-spectrum gro-lights Hormones such as BAP (benzylaminopurine) and NAA (naphthalene acetic
acid) to stimulate growth and root development, respectively. (Commercial rooting hormone solutions and powders are also available from hardware stores.)
Murashige Minimal Organics Medium recipe
Inorganic salts mg/L
CaCl2 (anhydrous) 332.20
MgSO4 (anhydrous) 180.70
CuSO4 (anhydrous) 0.016
CoCl2 (anhydrous) 0.014
The pH is adjusted to 5.7 using 0.1 M HCl or NaOH.
Preparation and sterilization of growing medium (when not provided pre-poured) These steps will make 1 L of growth medium which is enough to prepare about 65 growing tubes.
1. Dissolve the MS mixture in about 800 ml of distilled water. Stir the water continuously while adding the salt mixture. Add 30 g sugar and stir to dissolve. Adjust pH to 5.8 using 1M NaOH or 1M HCl as necessary while gently stirring. Add distilled water to make the total volume up to
2. Weigh out 10 grams of agar and add it to the MS solution. Heat the solution gently while stirring until all the agar has dissolved.
3. Pour the still warm medium into the polycarbonate tubes to a depth of about 4 cm which will use about 15ml of media per tube.
4. Place the tubes (with lids sitting on the tubes but not tightened) in a pressure cooker and sterilize for 20 minutes. Cool the pressure cooker, then remove the tubes and tighten the lids.
Alternatively, the tubes can be placed in boiling water for 30 minutes, but make sure that none of the water is able to enter the tubes.
If you wish to use plants other than cauliflower you need to prepare two different media that contain plant hormones necessary to stimulate the development of differentiated tissues.
The first one should contain a cytokinin such as BAP which promotes shoot formation and the second one a rooting hormone such as NAA or store-bought rooting hormone. To do this, prepare the mixture up until the end of step
2. Keeping the mixture warm so that it does not solidify, divide it equally into two pre-warmed containers. Each container can be used to prepare 30 or so tubes as above.
The first container should have BAP added at the rate of 2.0mg/l. The second container should have the NAA hormone added at the rate of 0.1 mg/L. To do this it is necessary to make concentrated solutions of both BAP (2.0mg/ml) and NAA (1.0mg/ml) and filter sterilize them.
Add 1ml of the concentrated BAP stock or 100μl of the NAA concentrated stock to each 1 liter of media that you prepare. If you use the rooting hormone that is purchased from your local hardware or nursery supply store instead of NAA then just follow the directions before adding to your media.
Preparation of a sterile transfer chamber and equipment A classroom transfer chamber can be made from a clean glass aquarium turned on its side. Scrub the aquarium thoroughly with a 30% bleach solution, making sure that you wear gloves and do not inhale the fumes.
Rinse with sterile distilled water, turn upside down on a clean counter or paper towels and allow to dry. Cut holes in a clean plastic sheet to allow arms to reach into the chamber and reinforce the cut edges with tape if necessary.