Micropropagation is often looked upon as being practical only for propagation of those plants, which are difficult to propagate by conventional propagation methods. This book suggests that by adopting the photoautotrophic micropropagation method, micropropagation technique is indeed applicable to the 'difficult to propagate' species, and equally it may offer economic advantages for some species which are considered relatively 'easy to propagate'.
In conventional, heterotrophic and photomixotrophic micropropagation, an essential part of the technology is the culture medium formulation (combinations and strength of plant growth regulators, vitamins, amino acids, sugar and other organic substances). Thus, inter-relational effects of the medium components on the growth and development of cultures are always somewhat subtle and only skilful experts can operate the micropropagation process. Moreover, environmental conditions of the plant microclimate cannot be controlled directly in the conventional system of plant tissue culture as it can be in photoautotrophic system. This type of conventional micropropagation system does not meet a requirement for commercialization on a large scale. This is partly because current technology of conventional micropropagation is based upon the plant tissue culture technology mainly developed for research purposes, which is, in principle, labor intensive and is not optimized for a large-scale production.
On the contrary, in photoautotrophic micropropagation, inorganic macro- and micro-nutrients only are basically supplied in the culture medium. Thus, effects of medium components on the growth and development of cultures and the cause-effect relationships are much simpler to understand than in conventional micropropagation. One of the most important advantages of photoautotrophic micropropagation is that its technology can be built based upon general plant physiology and ecology dealing with photosynthesis, respiration, transpiration, etc. It is important to note that photoautotrophic micropropagation is a kind of vegetative propagation under disease-free conditions. Then, it is natural that control of physical environmental factors in the culture room is more important in photoautotrophic micropropagation than in conventional micropropagation.
There is a huge demand of genetically superior and disease free transplants in horticultural, agricultural, forestry and environmental conservation industries. Thus, development of innovative vegetative transplant production systems including a micropropagation system is important in order to produce a large number of high quality transplants at a low cost in a short time with minimum use of resource and minimum environmental pollution. In order to establish such a transplant production system, it is essential to integrate recent technological and scientific developments based upon a unified concept and methodology of photoautotrophic micropropagation.
Current advanced greenhouse technology for plant propagation and transplant production has been well developed for a large-scale production. Thus, for the development of a large-scale photoautotrophic micropropagation and transplant production system, technologies of plug seedling production, hydroponic culture, greenhouse environment control, and greenhouse crop management can be applied with careful consideration of disease protection. The current photoautotrophic micropropagation system can be improved further for a larger scale production by incorporating recent technologies of computers, robotics, energy-saving, recycling, environmental conservation, ecological engineering, etc. At the same time, photoautotrophic micropropagation is suitable also for a small-scaled operation.
The production system for high quality transplants should be simple and robust and should have a high adaptability to a diversity and specificity of plants and social and economic situations, but it should still be based upon a unified concept integrating different technologies in a systematic and simple way. Photoautotrophic micropropagation technology is based upon such a concept and technologies upon which a future system should be based.
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