It is now more than twenty years since the first edition of this work appeared and nearly fifteen since the second. Whilst much of the information in those editions has stood the test of time, inevitably, because of the pace of research, a new edition is clearly timely.

This is true, not only because many more species have been the subject of propagation studies, but because the background to the field - with which this volume deals - has changed almost out of all recognition. In particular, our knowledge of plant development, genetics physiology, biochemistry and molecular biology has expanded exponentially - often through work on mutants of Arabidopsis - and opened up many new avenues for the plant propagator to explore. Equally, the commercial significance of plant propagation has increased significantly. As an example, in the second edition there was a single chapter on plant growth regulators - in this there are three, reflecting the fact that not only is there more information on those PGRs we recognised in 1993, but that several new ones are now known. Equally, fifteen years ago we knew little of the molecular basis of plant development e.g. flower and shoot development, in this edition it has merited a whole chapter, much of which relates to discoveries in the last decade.

Because of these factors, it was felt that a different approach was required for this edition. The second edition was researched and written by Edwin George alone but it would now be very difficult for a single author to gain the breadth of expertise necessary to cover all the relevant aspects of this many-faceted subject. Hence, it was decided to adopt a multi-author approach, with chapters written by experts in their fields. These build upon the sound framework of the previous editions (which those with a knowledge of the previous works will recognise). Many sections of the previous work have been retained, but inevitably, apart from up-to-date reference lists, the text has undergone major revision in many areas.

Like the previous edition, the current one will appear in two volumes, but coverage has been extended and the order in which subjects are covered has been changed. Therefore, some topics, previously covered in Part 1, will now be discussed in Part 2. The ethos of the work is, as before, to produce an encyclopaedic text.

The first initiative to begin the new revision of Plant Propagation by Tissue Culture was made by Prof. A.C. Cassells and the editors are grateful to him for his early leadership. No work of this size can be accomplished successfully without much goodwill and hard work by the contributors, and to them the editors express their deepest thanks. We also express our sincere thanks to all those who have allowed us to use their material in diagrams and illustrations. We are very appreciative of the hard work by Dr. Susan Rafferty-McArdle of University College Cork in formatting the text, and to Dr. Jacco Flipsen of Springer for his support.

Edwin George Mike Hall Geert-Jan de Klerk May 2007

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