Tissue Culture and Banana Plants
1 Jun 2020

Tissue Culture and Banana Plants

Jessica Rosslee

Table of Contents

Tissue culture is a modern technology that is transforming agriculture across the globe. The traditional farming methods often fall short when meeting commercial demands, and farmers are turning to tissue culture for high yielding and uniform crops.

Cultivators using traditional banana farming methods began to encounter issues such as lengthy gestation periods, low yields, excessive flood irrigation leading to high mortality rates, and difficulty propagating disease-free uniform suckers. These challenges could be attributed to a variety of factors, such as a lack of disease-free plants and planting materials, or farmers who have not been exposed to high tech cultivation techniques.

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What are the Advantages of Tissue Culture in Banana Plantations?

The uniformity that tissue culture can offer is one of its greatest advantages over the more conventional and traditional farming techniques.

  1. Gene Selection
    Tissue culture techniques give farmers the opportunity to select genetics they wish to propagate on a mass scale. This can be done with genetic transformation or selection and will usually involve some type of gene preservation. Genetic profiles that have high yields will be able to be mass propagated, and the healthy growth and development in the initial culturing stages will lead to optimal returns.
  2. Gene Preservation
    Tissue culture allows a plant to carry the exact genetic lineage of its mother plant. A well-managed tissue culture operation should have little to no crop variation, allowing genetic lineages to be preserved.
  3. Smoother Field Transition
    The tissue culture saplings tend to have a smoother transition into the field. This can be attributed to the healthy root systems they have developed through accelerated growth and nutrition intake.
  4. Disease Free
    The planting material will be free of pests, diseases, and viruses. During the culturing process, PPM™ can be added to the media which reduces and prevents microbial contamination.
  5. Uniformity and Consistency
    Tissue culture offers uniform crops, while suckers will not carry the genetic profile. This means that the cultured crops will have consistent growth, and harvests will become regular.
  6. Early Crop Maturation
    What’s more, the tissue culture process instigates early crop maturation, which means that farmers can make the most of a shorter harvesting period. With this shortened period, farmers will have an increased ability to meet market demands.

    Thanks to this early crop maturation, tissue culture offers banana farmers the opportunity to have two successive ratoons, increasing profits and reducing the overall cultivation costs.

    If farmers use tissue culture successfully, healthy plants and fruit can be supplied year-round. A high percentage of plants will bear bunches (up to 98% of plants could be successful). These high yielding plants could lead to stabilized profits.

Use of Tissue Culture in Banana Plantations

India has been a leader in tissue-cultured banana plantations. Different banana seedlings are propagated by biotech companies using tissue culture techniques, but the most popular one is the Grand Naine banana species.

South Africa and Limpopo are using tissue culture to cultivate banana clones to ensure vigorous plants that have high yields at the Du Roi laboratory. The process requires sterile environments, which means equipping workers with face masks, gloves, and other tools that contribute to a sterile environment.

The banana tissue culture is sliced and duplicated to create the cultures. The tissues are placed in a gelling agent with the appropriate growth mediums and nutrients administered at the appropriate times. The strict observation of these procedures leads to healthy and vigorous crops.

According to the Southern African laboratory’s general manager, the most significant advantage that tissue culture offers is that all the crops and plants are uniform; they follow the same growth timeline and can be harvested at the same times. This simplifies plantation management and can cut down overall costs.

South Africa’s tropical climate means that it can naturally produce healthy bananas. But with a high demand coming in from more than 25 different countries, tissue culture can significantly assist the farmers.

By using tissue culture techniques, the Du Roi laboratory’s exports are 25% in vitro. The in vitro exports can be transported with ease and simplicity, as they are about 2.5 cm in height, and one grower tub can hold 55 plants. The packages are convenient, and this efficiency for the export industry is another advantage offered by tissue culture techniques.

Tissue culture offers banana plantations the opportunity to mass propagate high yielding, disease-free plants. Cultivators can select genes that promote faster growth cycles, high yields, and even more desirable banana shapes. These clones, carrying the precise genetic profiles, will be a uniform crop that farmers can rely on.

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