Tissue culture plant business in India
Plants are an inevitable element of our nature and it is essential to conserve it. Plants are often susceptible to diseases which decrease their yield due to certain climatic factors and contamination of soil, water or seeds. These factors can be controlled if we set up the whole cultivation process artificially in a controlled and growing environment with suitable mediums of growth.
Artificially cultivated plants can be genetically modified too according to our desired characteristics through Tissue Culture of plants. The plants can also be regenerated through a small tissue or plant cells in a suitable culture medium in a controlled environment. Tissue culture has a very great and demanding business in India and many successful plant species are presently being propagated through this process.Here, in this article we are going to study about the Tissue Culture Plant business in India. But first let us understand about Plant tissue Culture.
Plant Tissue Culture
Plant tissue culture is a collection of breeding techniques which is used to maintain and grow plant cells, tissues, organs under artificial settings in sterile conditions. It is kept in a nutrient medium and is mainly used for cloning the plants by micropropagation. This method was first introduced in the 1950s and is now used widely for commercial purposes and preserving the endangered plant species.
Tissue culture mainly uses broth and agar as its medium for growth and is beneficial for growing disease free plants and increasing their yield, only requiring a sterile workplace, greenhouse, trained & experienced manpowers, and a nursery for plantation.
Types of Tissue Culture
In general, tissue culture is performed in 6 forms. They are:
- Seed culture
- Embryo culture
- Callus culture
- Organ culture
- Protoplast culture
- Anther culture
Process of Plant tissue culture
The process of Plant tissue culture can be understood through the below mentioned steps.
- The explants are taken from the mother plant and are treated to eliminate microbes.
- The sterile media is prepared and the explants are injected under this sterile bench.
- Then the explants are kept in rooms with controlled light and temperature for growing.
- The plants are regularly monitored for any contamination.
- Then the plants are performed with sub-culturing by cutting and multiplying the shoots under sterile conditions.
- The plants are incubated in the growth room.
- The plants are then processed for rooting and then it is hardened before planting it in the field.
Stages of Tissue Culture
The process of tissue culture is divided into 5 stages/steps which are described below:
- Initiation stage – First the tissue is selected and then this tissue is initiated into the culture and is sterilized to prevent any contamination.
- Multiplication stage – The sterilized explants are then added to a medium with nutrients and growth regulators which are responsible for multiplication of cells. This mass of cells is also known as ‘callus’.
- Root formation stage – Growth hormones are added in the explants to initiate the formation of root which then produces a complete set of plantlets.
- Shoot formation stage – Growth hormones are added to plants for shoot formation as well.
- Acclimatization stage – In this stage the plants are transferred to the greenhouse when they start to develop and are finally transferred to nurseries to grow under natural conditions.
Importance of Plant Tissue Culture
Tissue culture produces a wide variety of species with many applications. Plant tissue culture is used for genetically modifying the plants with desirable characteristics, and can rejuvenate itself and can produce its exact copy referred to as ‘clones’. The technique doesn’t require any seeds or bulbs for production of plants and it also conserves the plant biodiversity by producing endangered plants.
Uses of Tissue Culture
Tissue culture is mainly performed for micropropagation, and then these genetically engineered plants are propagated from a single plant. Here we will see its major benefits.
- It produces commercially important plants
- It enhances the development of disease free plants
- It produces mature plants on a quick basis
- It requires only a small amount of plant tissue initially
- It requires relatively less space to perform the process
- The process can be done throughout the year and is independently of any season
- The new plantlets can be grown in a short period of time
- Specific breeds of orchids or the challenging plants can be easily cultivated
- New varieties are easily produced
Tissue culture has the ability to regenerate a whole plant through plant cells, pieces of leaves, stems or roots given the required nutrients and plant hormones.
There are certain challenges in tissue culture as well. They are:
- Requires more labour and money
- If the abnormalities are not seen before culturing, it could lead the new plants being infected
- The propagated plants would be less resilient to diseases
- The success of tissue culture is not guaranteed
Although there are these limitations, the advantages of using tissue culture outweighs them, you just have to spend more money but the return is also not less.
Tissue Culture Business in India
Plant tissue culture has emerged as an important technique which is commercially viable to produce high quality, disease free and high yielding plants in the laboratory rapidly without any dependency towards the seasons. There is a huge demand for agricultural, forestry, plantation and horticulture crops that are of high quality and disease free, so there is an emergence of tissue culture in the commercial business to produce such crops at a higher rate.
At the present scenario, there are almost 200 commercial tissue culture companies in India with a gross production capacity of 500 million plantlets per year with an estimated market of Rs 500 crore.
Examples of Commercially propagated plants in India
The examples of some plants that are commercially propagated through tissue culture in India are listed below:
- Fruits – Banana, Pineapple, Strawberry
- Cash crops – Sugarcane, Potato
- Spices – Turmeric, Ginger, Vanilla, Big & Small Cardamom
- Medicinal plants – Aloe Vera, Geranium, Stevia, Patchouli, Neem
- Ornamentals – Gerbera, Carnation, Anthurium, Lily, Syngonium, Cymbidium
- Woody plants – Teak, Bamboo, Eucalyptus, Populus
- Biofuels – Jatropha, Pongamia
Risks of Plant tissue culture
Tissue culture is highly utilized for the purpose of commercial business but every business has certain risks as well. Here, tissue culture too comes with these mitigating risks –
- Spreading of diseases caused by viruses and variations.
- Accidentally introducing diseases by the movement of plants.
- Pathogens also cause risks.
- Distribution of inferior micropropagated plants has a threat to the growing agribusiness industry.
These risks could be prevented by following certain effective procedures before bulking up culture for propagation. Certain procedures that can be adopted are:
- Select the mother plants for propagation carefully
- Ensure virus free culture by monitoring 100% explants
- Proper practices need to be adopted such as a limited number of cycles of multiplication, grading of cultures as well as plants, insects, monitoring of pests, etc.
Establishment of Tissue Culture unit
Tissue culture unit are established using the following components:
- Storage room for chemicals – It is recommended to have a separate area for storing chemicals, apparatus and certain equipment and the chemicals should be purchased in smaller quantities to prevent contamination.
- Washing and Media preparation room – There should have a washing room located near the sterilization room with adequate resources and a media preparation room to enable easy cleaning.
- Inoculation room – It is the most important room as the core activity takes place here so it should be cleaned with minimal air disturbance with proper sterilization of the instruments.
- Growth room – This room is the culture room where the plant cultures are maintained under controlled environmental conditions so as to grow optimally.
For the acclimatization stage, the cultured plants are transferred to the greenhouse, so a greenhouse is also required with proper heating and cooling equipment.
Listing below some of the other equipment and instruments required for the plants.
- Laminar air flow cabinet
- Fire extinguishers
- Equipment for sterilization
- Electronic weighing balance
- Water distillation apparatus
- Glasswares, plastic wares and steel apparatus for medium preparation
- Air handling units
- Air conditioners
- Digital pH meter
- Greenhouse material
Location & Climate Requirement for Tissue Culture
The laboratory for preparing tissue cultured plants is preferred in a moderate climatic condition where there is no interruption of water and power. Tissue culture requires controlled environmental conditions for carrying out the process and extreme conditions would add to the cost of maintenance.
Tissue cultured plants have a huge demand in the Indian market due to its low maintenance cost, skilled labour and scientific manpower. Also, India enables a wide range of plant biodiversity and favorable climate which is also an advantage for this business here.
The major consumers of plants raised from tissue culture are listed below:
- State Agricultural Department
- Agri Export Zones (AEZs)
- State Agencies
- Spice Board
- Sugar Industry
- Private Farmers
The domestic market of tissue culture plants has an estimated business of around Rs 200 crore with 20% of growth rate annually. The companies mainly focus on banana, floriculture, sugarcane and potato. There is a constant awareness about it which has led to its improvement in yield and quality.