Tissue Culture and Genetic Transformation
1 Jun 2020

Tissue Culture and Genetic Transformation

Jessica Rosslee

Table of Contents

Global demand is increasing across many industries; whether it is cannabis or palm oil, we are a consumer society that continues to want more from distant places. But what happens when the resources run out or the pillaging of these natural resources cause problems like those we have seen in the palm oil industry? And how can cannabis cultivators ensure they are maximizing yields and offering the best cannabis genetics that they can?

For most businesses, we know that uniformity of crops is required if they are to become known for delivering consistent quality. Cultivators also need to maximize their use of space without compromising quality. How would a cultivator manage to tick all these boxes? Well, if the grower has the right genes, then these criteria can be met with tissue culture.

As the demand for both legal and medical cannabis continues to increase around the world, there is a need for the cannabis industry to grow. Using tissue culture to maintain gene consistency, increase yield and efficiency, and lower PPD risk is a part of that growth.

The cannabis industry is turning towards modern plant science to keep up with demand and maintain the shifting sands that are the current industry standards. Using these methods of modern plant science helps to produce consistently quality plants that can be both safe for consumers and high yielding. The cannabis industry is growing fast, and companies are investing in technologies such as harvesting equipment, improved greenhouse designs, lighting systems, plant growth regulators, molecular biology, and tissue culture. All of these innovations can help to achieve optimum plant hormones and increased yields, especially the use of tissue culture propagation.

The use of plant tissue culture to enhance and maintain genetic transformation has become a tool for both scientists as well as those involved in agricultural production.

One case where we can observe the use of tissue culture for genetic transformation is the progress made by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB). The MPOB came under increasing pressure from environmentalists to make their processes more sustainable and began to understand that there are certain limitations brought on by conventional farming and breeding. Tissue culture and the genetic engineering it allows for have been brought on as tools to maintain quality and increase the yield of the monocot oil from which palm oil is harvested.

Preference Center

How can Tissue Culture be used for Genetic Transformation?

Micropropagation, or the tissue culture method, helps newly cultivated plants have the same gene expression as the original plant. By using the tissue culture method, cultivators can produce uniform plants on a large scale.

Traditional breeding methods are unable to produce such precise results, while conventional breeding may allow for large scale production, it is unlikely for all the plants to bear the same genetic profiles.

In the case of palm oil, the previous decade saw an exponential increase in the demand for oil. Conventional farming techniques have not been able to fully support the demand, and using tissue culture to multiply the number of colonial palms will allow the industry to meet market demands without causing further damage to the land.

Genetic Alterations and Semi Clonal Variation

Genetic alterations can be done using plant tissue culture, and usually results in semi clonal variation. Semi clonal variation describes the heritable changes in phenotypes that may result from plant tissue culture's genetic alterations. It is still uncertain how specific plant genotypes (hybrids, pure-lines, or polyploids) respond to genetic changes brought on by tissue culture.

Maintaining Genetic Profile in Cannabis

Sought after and rare strains can be preserved with tissue culture, which acts as a tissue bank. The tissue bank is an excellent tool for maintaining genetics over a prolonged period without taking up excessive space. For the cannabis industry, using tissue culture to preserve genetics will surely help businesses secure future patents. While seeds and conventional cloning may be a reasonably successful method for cultivation, time may bring a fading potency or yield.

On the business and legal side of the cannabis industry, we see an increasing number of companies shifting their focus to property rights to secure their specific cannabis phenotypes. The tissue banks can assist these businesses in maintaining the original plant and preserving their phenotypes.

Genetic Alterations with Tissue Culture: Minding the Gap

What we have seen so far in the cannabis market is industry leaders pursuing advanced cannabis cultivation methods that can produce a large volume of uniform, cloned plants, while maintaining the genetic profile throughout cultivation.

Tissue culture is a large part of today’s cannabis industry, as it allows cultivators to yield high volumes of cannabis bud, maintain genetic continuity, all while using precise genetic profiles to help plants become immune to diseases and help prevent the attack of pathogens and pests. The genetic profiling means that you can cultivate plants that have resilient genetics, thereby providing product security. Propagation using tissue culture offers yields of both quality and quantity.

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