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PLANTS can be cultivated in test-tubes
that contain the appropriate nutrient
medium. Any part of the plant can be
inoculated into the medium to produce
a large number of plants. This system is
far more efficient and cost-effective as
compared to conventional methods of
Tissue culture, to begin with, is
a good method for understanding the
factors responsible for cell differentiation and organ formation. An important application of plant tissue culture is
micropropagation of endangered
species - over a million plants can be
produced from a microscopic segment
of plant tissue within 12 months. Such a
prolific rate of multiplication cannot be
expected of any other method. Production of disease-free plants by the
eradication of virus has been an outstanding contribution of tissuk culture
technology towards horticulture and
cultivation of forest crops. In addition, a
large number of genetic manipulations
can be done using this technique.
The potential use of plant tissue
culture for the production of compounds valuable to the industry
has long been a subject of interest for
'biotechnologists as well. Higher plants
are valuable sources of industrially
important natural products which
include flavors, fragrances, essential oils,
pigments, sweeteners, feedstocks,
antimicrobials and pharmaceuticals. In
most instances, these chemical compounds belong to a group@ collectively
referred to as secondary metabolites.
Plant cell cultures have advantages in
production of these metabolites over
intact (non -experimental) plants due to
the fact that the rate of cell growth and
biosynthesis in cultures initiated from a
very small amount of plant material is
quite high. As a result, the final product
may be produced in a considerably short
period of time. This is in contrast to large
amount of mature plant tissues processed to obtain a small quantity of drug.
The natural sources for the manufacture of these products are not enough
to meet consumers' demand and therefore, efforts have to be made to develop
this tissue culture technology for their
production at an industrial level.