Kew Bulletin

, Volume 65, Issue 4, pp 539–547 | Cite as

The possibilities and challenges of in vitro methods for plant conservation



Seed-based methods are generally the most efficient for propagating and storing plant germplasm, but these methods are not always adequate, and some species can benefit from in vitro methods for conservation. For species that produce few or no seeds in the wild, plants may be propagated in vitro, and in vitro shoot tips can provide material for cryostorage when seeds are not available or are recalcitrant. In vitro propagated plants may also serve as subjects for research, without depleting the genetic resources of the species. Clonal plants can be used to test out suitable habitat and can be used for basic research on endangered species, without disturbing the wild population. Despite the effectiveness of widely used techniques, however, there are still species that resist initiation into culture or that may be difficult to root or acclimatise. Similarly, tissue cryopreservation methods may be restrained by cost, particularly in maintaining multiple genotypes of many species. Maintaining such genotypes in vitro is also costly and runs the risk of loss or change over time. Examples of the successful use of in vitro methods will illustrate the variety of applications of these techniques, but costs and specific challenges will also be discussed to help define areas where further research is needed to realise the potential of in vitro methods as a tool for conservation.

Key Words

Cost cryopreservation plant tissue culture 


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Copyright information

© The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered WildlifeCincinnati Zoo & Botanical GardenCincinnatiUSA

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