E. F. George et al. (eds.), Plant Propagation by Tissue Culture 3rd Edition, 29-64. © 2008 Springer.

Research to improve macropropagation methods continues, but has lost some impetus in recent years with the continued extension of tissue culture for plant multiplication.

Whether it will be most rewarding to propagate a plant by seed, by traditional vegetative techniques, or by tissue culture, will often not only depend on the plant species, but also on the development of proven techniques, relative costs and agronomic objectives. The extent to which tissue culture methods can be used for genetic manipulations and for propagation is changing continuously. Until recently, potato plants have been raised from seed during breeding programmes to select new varieties: tissue culture may have been employed to multiply certain lines and to propagate disease-tested stocks of established cultivars, while macropropagation of field-grown tubers has been used to provide normal planting material. New research into genetic manipulations and methods of propagation using tissue culture techniques, can alter this situation: diversity can be introduced and controlled through genetic engineering while certified stock of new varieties can be produced on a large scale by micropropagation.

The selection of a propagation method for any given plant is constrained by its genetic potential. For example, some plants readily produce adventitious shoot buds on their roots, while others do not; trying to propagate a plant, which does not have this capability, from root cuttings or root explants, will be more problematic both in vivo and in vitro. Plant tissue culture does overcome some genetically imposed barriers, but a clear effect of genotype is still apparent. It is not yet possible to induce an apple tree to produce tubers!

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