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Improvement of plants via plant cell culture

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Selection of variant cell lines.
  3. Production of variant plants from selected cells.
  4. Production of herbicide-tolerant plants.
  5. Production of chill-tolerant plants from cultured cells.
  6. Production of salt-tolerant plants through in vitro selection.
  7. Conclusion.

The techniques of plant cell culture facilitate the rapid production of variant cell lines via selection procedures similar to those employed in microbial systems. These variant cell lines are useful in research into the genetics and biochemistry of plant cells and in biotechnology for production of new plant varieties and secondary metabolites. We consider here some of the principles and problems associated with the selection of variant plant cells and the regeneration of plants with new characteristics. Later we see how the application of genetic engineering methods is now aiding this area of research. Plant cell selection has been performed with equal success using cells growing on solid media as calluses and in suspension as typical cell clumps. Rapidly growing, fine suspension cultures or friable calluses are generally the most suitable for selection purposes.

[...] Production of herbicide-tolerant plants Plant cell cultures have assumed an important role in the study of the mode of action of some herbicides. In addition there are now numerous examples where the techniques of in vitro selection and plant regeneration have been used to produce herbicide-resistant cells and plants. Production of new crop varieties in this way may have important applications in agriculture by allowing the effective control of weed species in a field without damage in the crop. Chaleff and Parsons (1978) selected cultured tobacco cells with tolerance of the herbicide picloram and then regenerated plants from four of the tolerant cell lines. [...]


[...] Such a mechanism of tolerance, whilst being very effective in cell culture, may be difficult to maintain in plants regenerated from the cells and indeed with glyphosate tolerant lines. Production of chill-tolerant plants from cultured cells There are a number of accounts of selection of cultured plant cells with enhanced tolerance of chilling, but descriptions of plants regenerated from such cells are rare. It seems likely that the lack of success in this area reflects the greater complexity of the physiological changes (e.g. [...]


[...] Self-fertilization of the fourth cell line, however, produced semi-tolerant, tolerant, and sensitive progency at ratios of 2:1:1. Three of the mutations, therefore, behaved as dominant alleles and one behaved as semi-dominant allele, of single nuclear genes. Analyses of this type are necessary in order to provide information on the genetics of newly selected traits particularly if the new characteristic is to be incorporated into crop varieties. Imidazolinones are a class of herbicides which inhibit acetohydroxyacid synthase (AHASE), the first enzyme on the biosynthetic pathway of the amino acids valine, leucine and isoleucine. [...]

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