, Volume 85, Issue 1–3, pp 295–302 | Cite as

Somaclonal variation as a tool for crop improvement

  • Angela Karp


Somaclonal variation is a tool that can be used by plant breeders. The review examines where this tool can be applied most effectively and the factors that limit or improve its chances of success. The main factors that influence the variation generated from tissue culture are (1) the degree of departure from organised growth, (2) the genotype, (3) growth regulators and (4) tissue source. Despite an increasing understanding of how these factors work it is still not possible to predict the outcome of a somaclonal breeding programme. New varieties have been produced by somaclonal variation, but in a large number of cases improved variants have not been selected because (1) the variation was all negative, (2) positive changes were also altered in negative ways, (3) the changes were not novel, or (4) the changes were not stable after selfing or crossing. Somaclonal variation is cheaper than other methods of genetic manipulation. At the present time, it is also more universally applicable and does not require ‘containment’ procedures. It has been most successful in crops with limited genetic systems and/or narrow genetic bases, where it can provide a rapid source of variability for crop improvement.

Key words

tissue culture somaclonal variation plant breeding 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Angela Karp
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Agricultural SciencesUniversity of Bristol, Institute of Arable Crops Research, Long Ashton Research StationBristolU.K.

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