Contributors to this page: Bioversity International, Belgium (Ines Van den Houwe); IITA, Nigeria (Dominique Dumet, Badara Gueye).
What is in vitro conservation
During the last 40-50 years in vitro techniques have been increasingly used for plant propagation. They consist in growing and multiplying parts of plants in flasks or tubes in artificial media, under controlled environments and sterile conditions.
Common banana in vitro techniques used in conservation are listed below:
- Slow growth storage – using tissue culture techniques and growth retardant conditions (temperature, light, chemicals).
Where is it used
An increasing number of countries has invested in tissue culture facilities for the propagation of clonal crops, including banana.
Initially, traditional tissue culture techniques (shoot tip and meristem culture) were used as a tool for the elimination of pests and diseases, rapid plant propagation and for the exchange of clean germplasm. As institutes became more experienced with these techniques, and the number of accessions in collections steadily increased, the available techniques were optimized and extensively adopted for slow growth conservation of germplasm. Until now however very few genebanks have initiated banana conservation activities using cryopreservation techniques.
When should it be used
In vitro conservation techniques should be used whenever technical expertise and facilities are available. They are generally more economic and less risky in a long-term perspective.
- To conserve plant parts of banana germplasm that can mostly be propagated vegetatively
- As a viable alternative to complement and reduce the large space required for field banks.
- In vitro conservation has low space requirements and minimal possibility of losses due to edaphic factors.
- To duplicate material contained in field banks.
- To replace field banks.
- To allow international germplasm exchange.
- To ensure a more secure conservation of germplasm for future generations.
- Costs (qualified labour, energy, supplies and infrastructure) are highly dependent on location and ecomomies of scale should be considered when taking in vitro conservation into consideration.
How should it be done
- It requires specialized laboratories and equipment with very skilled technicians and researchers.
- It also requires adaptive technologies for some more reluctant species.
- It requires sterile conditions and very well controlled artificial growth environments.
- It requires high initial investments but relatively low maintenance costs in a long-term perspective.
- In vitro conservation should only be considered if the laboratory forms part of a conservation strategy involving also other crops.
References and further reading
Benson E, Harding K, Debouck D, Dumet D, Escobar R, Mafla G, Panis B, Panta A, Tay D, Van denhouwe I, Roux N 2011. Refinement and standardization of storage procedures for clonal crops – Global Public Goods Phase 2: Part III. Multi-crop guidelines for developing in vitro conservation best practices for clonal crops. Rome, Italy: System-wide Genetic Resources Programme. Available here.
Benson E, Harding K, Debouck D, Dumet D, Escobar R, Mafla G, Panis B, Panta A, Tay D, Van denhouwe I, Roux N 2011. Refinement and standardization of storage procedures for clonal crops – Global Public Goods Phase 2: Part II. Status of in vitro conservation technologies for: Andean root and tuber crops, cassava, Musa, potato, sweetpotato and yam. Rome, Italy: System-wide Genetic Resources Programme. Available here.
Benson E, Harding K, Debouck D, Dumet D, Escobar R, Mafla G, Panis B, Panta A, Tay D, Van denhouwe I, Roux N 2011. Refinement and standardization of storage procedures for clonal crops – Global Public Goods Phase 2: Part I. Project landscape and general status of clonal crop in vitro conservation technologies. System-wide Genetic Resources Programme. Available here.
Calles T, Dulloo ME, Engels JMM, Van den Houwe I. 2003. Best Practices for Germplasm Management – A new approach for achieving genebank standards. Technical Report. International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, Global Crop Diversity Trust, Rome, Italy. Available here.
Mafla G. 1994. Conservación de germoplasma In vitro. In: King C, Osorio J, Salazar L, editors. Memorias I Seminario Nacional sobre Biotecnología. Universidad del Tolima. Colombia. pp. 65-77.
Roca WM, Chaves R, Marin ML, Arias DI, Mafla G, Reyes R. 1989. In vitro methods of germplasm conservation. Genome 31 (2):813-817.
Roca WM, Mafla G, Segovia RJ. 1991. Costo mínimo de un laboratorio de cultivo de tejidos vegetales. In: Roca WM, Mroginski LA, editors. Cultivo de tejidos en la agricultura: Fundamentos y Aplicaciones. pp. 912-920.
Szabados L, Nuñez LM, Tello LM, Mafla G, Roa JC, Roca WM. 1991. Agentes gelanitizadores en el cultivo de tejidos. In: Roca WM, Mroginski LA, editors. Cultivo de tejidos en la agricultura: Fundamentos y Aplicaciones. pp. 79-93.