What is micropropagation?
Micropropagation can be defined as:- growing plants from seed or small pieces of tissue under sterile conditions in a laboratory on specially selected media. This is performed in a carefully controlled environment. The media that the plants are grown on contain a carbohydrate source, a range of mineral salts and agar. Sometimes vitamins, amino acids, growth regulators or plant extracts may be added to encourage growth. Different media are used for different plants.
How is it useful?
Plant tissue culture and micropropagation techniques play an important
role in conservation programmes and management of botanical collections.
The Micropropagation Unit was set up at Kew in 1974 to propagate plants
that are rare, endangered or difficult to grow conventionally. The techniques
used include in vitro (literally 'in glass') laboratory propagation
from vegetative material and germination of seeds and spores.
Expertise has been developed in growing over 3000 species from around the world. These include many that have never been studied before. Our knowledge can be put to good use in helping with conservation of threatened species from unique habitats and remote locations.