Tissue Culture – Boon And Bane

Tissue culture is a science-based technique of propagating certain plants fast, very fast. That’s a technique used in multiplying orchids, banana and many other crops. This is the technique used in multiplying disease-free banana planting materials just like the ones grown by the big as well as small scale Cavendish banana plantations in Mindanao.
The technique of using tissue-cultured planting materials was also used to rehabilitate the Lakatan banana plantings in Cagayan Valley and other parts of Northern Luzon which were ravaged by the Banana Bunchy Top Virus. The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) teamed up with Bioversity International to come up with a protocol of procuring the tissue-cultured Lakatan from a big tissue-culture laboratory in Davao City.
The tissue-cultured plantlets were air-shipped to Manila which were eventually brought to the province where they had to be hardened in a nursery up to the time they were ready for planting in the field. That’s a cheap way of bringing the planting materials to the area where they were to be planted. The project has been successful in reviving the Lakatan banana industry in Northern Luzon, once again making available to local consumers good quality Lakatan bananas.

TISSUE CULTURE COULD BE A BANE – While tissue-culture offers tremendous benefits, it could be a bane if undertaken improperly. It could be the fastest means of spreading disease in banana as well as in other crops. How? Well, if the source of the material to be tissue-cultured is disease-infected, the resulting tissue-cultured plantlets will carry the disease. Since tissue culture could produce thousands if not millions of plantlets tremendously fast, the disease could spread super fast.
 So what is the solution? Dr. Agustin Molina, top man of Bioversity International in this region of Asia-Pacific and Oceania, says that it is very important that the source of tissue-cultured material should be extremely clean. And that is the reason why the material to be tissue-cultured should be tested for any disease infection. Any infected material should be discarded.

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