Plant tissue culture is an essential component of many present-day breeding techniques, such as anther culture, protoplast technology, embryo rescue and microsporogenesis.
Optimal conditions for such techniques are to be determined for each new species and we have a track-record in this area. Another major application of plant tissue culture is micropropagation: vegetative propagation in vitro. Micropropagation may produce very fast large numbers of vigorous plants with high quality and without endogenous pathogens. Micropropagation can be achieved by inducing outgrowth of axillary buds and suppressing apical dominance, by de novo synthesis of adventitous shoots or by somatic embryogenesis. Understanding the underlying mechanisms of some of the crucial steps in the processes mentioned above are studied aimed not only at improving the efficiencies, but also the quality of the plants produced. Because stress is a major cause of poor quality, quality improvement is tackled in a research project on stress related to tissue culture at the physiological, biochemical and molecular level. This should lead to practical solutions reducing the detrimental effects of stress imposed by the harsh environmental conditions in in vitro micropropagation. Another determining factor of growth and quality in tissue-cultured plants is nutrition. We are studying nutrient flows and parameters influencing it in tissue culture. The study of physiological factors as transpiration and photosynthesis is combined with a molecular genetic approach investigating the role of genes involved in carbohydrate partitioning.