Introduction to Tissue Culture of Medicinal Plants (Part-2)
6 Jan 2022

Introduction to Tissue Culture of Medicinal Plants (Part-2)

Anjali Singh, MS

As a content and community manager, I leverage my expertise in plant biotechnology, passion for tissue culture, and writing skills to create compelling articles, simplifying intricate scientific concepts, and address your inquiries. As a dedicated science communicator, I strive to spark curiosity and foster a love for science in my audience.

Anjali Singh, MS
Table of Contents


Medicinal plants have been an essential part of the public health system in developing countries. Their uses can be traced back to ancient times in the writings and scriptures of Indians, Chinese, and Romans.

The secondary metabolite in plants is the compounds extracted and purified for treating diseases. But how does it benefit the plants?

The secondary metabolite does not facilitate any life processes of plants but has several important functions, including:

  • Acting as a defense mechanism for plants and protecting them from pathogens.
  • In some plants, they act as attractants for the pollinators.
  • Some induce flowering, maintain perennial growth or signal deciduous behavior, and fruit set and abscission.
  • They protect the plants from abiotic and biotic stresses. For example, phenylpropanoids protect plants from UV damage.

Based on their structure, these secondary metabolites are classified into four classes: phenolics, alkaloids, terpenes, and sulfur-containing compounds.

Apart from their uses in plants, some of these compounds impart medicinal properties to plants and are used to treat a spectrum of diseases. However, plants do not produce these compounds in the quantity that their demands can be fulfilled. Furthermore, cutting down or damaging many trees to achieve the required amount of secondary metabolite for pharmaceutical purposes can lead to the extinction of these plants.

According to studies, some plants are already on the verge of extinction or endangered due to their extensive exploitation by humans. So, the question raised is what can be done?

The tissue culture of medicinal plants and the production of these compounds using the technique can be an efficient way to fulfill the huge demands of plant-based medicines.

In this article, we cover the tissue culture technique that has been used in medicinal plants to ramp up the production of secondary metabolites. Let’s have a look.

Tissue Culture of Medicinal Plants

In the previous part of the article, you have learned about the basic steps of tissue culture, which is applicable to all plant types. To summarize they are:

  • Collection of plant material
  • Surface sterilization of explant
  • Establishment of plant culture
  • Multiplication of plants
  • Rooting of regenerated plants
  • Acclimatization of plants
  • Transfer of plants to fields

Explant source and collection

The explant is the initial material used for initiating the culture process of a specific plant. The most commonly used explants are shoot tips, root tips, and nodal buds. The success of plants in tissue culture also depends on the age, type, and source of the explants. A suitable size of the explant is essential for the culture process. For example, a large explant can cause contamination, and a smaller explant might lead to no growth.


Contamination in plants is the biggest threat to culturists. So, surface sterilization of the explant is necessary to kill or remove the microbes sticking to the explants. Generally, explants are cleaned with distilled water and then put into chemicals, such as calcium hypochlorite, sodium hypochlorite, ethanol, mercuric chloride, hydrogen peroxide, or silver nitrate for complete sterilization. The sterilization process you choose for your plant depends on your chosen explant type.

Tissue Culture techniques

The realization of successful tissue culture of medicinal plants was not until the success of growing complete Rauwolfia serpentina L. using somatic callus tissue. Well, how would a plant do in its culture, depends on five major factors:

  • Selection of the initial material
  • Composition of media
  • Growth Regulators
  • Cultivar
  • Environmental factors

The techniques profoundly used to culture medicinal plants include:

  • Callus Cultures: Callus is an undifferentiated mass that forms in from the revered process of cell differentiation, a process known as dedifferentiation or redifferentiation.
  • Suspension Cultures: In this process, friable calli were grown in liquid media in suitable containers and agitated continuously to result in the formation of a suspension of free single cells.
  • Somatic embryogenesis: The term somatic embryogenesis refers to the process by which a non-zygotic embryo is produced from vegetative tissue plant tissue or cell, which can develop into a new plant.
  • Protoplast cultures: Protoplast is cells without cell walls. Here, cells of plant cells are removed by enzymatic or mechanical techniques and cultured on suitable media to regenerate the whole plant.
  • Organogenesis: Organogenesis is the process through which the apical meristem of the shoot apex, axillary buds, root tips, and floral buds are stimulated to differentiate and grow into shoots, then into complete plants.

Now in the next article “secondary metabolites and tissue culture,” you will learn how the advanced technology is used to enhance its production and some examples of the previous studies of successful mass production of secondary metabolites using tissue culture technique.

How Plant Cell Technology Is Helping Culturists Worldwide In Their Tissue Culture Application?

Plant Cell Technology is helping tissue culturists around the world by providing unique and world-class products and services that smoothen their process. It has MS media, plant growth regulators of all types, agar, gellan gum, culture vessels, and masks in its store to facilitate your processes.

And, that’s not it! Plant Cell Technology also offers consultation services to culturists of all sizes that help to get instant solutions to your tissue culture problems.

So, visit today and find out more about our product and services and how they help you to excel in your tissue culture processes.

Happy Culturing!!

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