Somaclonal Variation and Induced Mutations in Crop Improvement

Volume 32 of the series Current Plant Science and Biotechnology in Agriculture pp 15-37

Somaclonal Variation: Mechanism and Applications in Crop Improvement

  • D. S. BrarAffiliated withInternational Rice Research Institute
  • , S. M. JainAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Production, University of Helsinski

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Somaclonal variation refers to the variation arising in cell cultures, regenerated plants and their progenies, and this general term was given by Larkin and Scowcroft (1981). However, other types of variation arise by specific culture of cells or tissues, which include culture of: protoplasts (protoclonal); anthers and microspores (gametoclonal); callus (calliclonal); apical meristem (mericlonal); leaf, stem, root or other somatic tissues (somaclonal). There are different approaches to create somaclonal variation, which include: (1) growth of callus or cell suspension cultures for several cycles; (2) regeneration of a large number of plants from such long-term cultures; (3) screening for desirable traits in the regenerated plants and their progenies, e.g. in-vitro selection to select agronomically desirable somaclones for tolerance to various biotic and abiotic stresses using toxic levels of pathotoxins, herbicides, salts, etc.; (4) testing of selected variants in subsequent generations for desired traits; and (5) multiplication of stable variants to develop new breeding lines.