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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Hartman, Robert
item Zimmerman, Richard

Submitted to: Cell and Tissue Culture Congress Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/30/1998
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Producing plants using tissue culture techniques on a large scale is called micropropagation. This procedure was adopted as a commercial practice starting about 1965 and has grown to be a substantial adjunct to the nursery and floral crops industry since then. New applications have been developed for use in forestry and with other horticultural and agronomic crops. Since little data were available about recent developments in the industry in the U.S., information was gathered about the current trends and scope of commercial micropropagation in the U.S. The largest user of this method continues to be the foliage plant industry. Labor costs are the main obstacle to increased production and expansion into areas where other propagation methods have lower costs. The relation between the U.S. industry and producers in other countries continues to evolve, but it is clear that quality of the plants produced and meeting delivery schedules have equal or more importance than low cost. Further growth in the U.S. industry is anticipated. This information is useful to commercial producers as well as scientists working with tissue culture technology.

Technical Abstract: Commercial micropropagation started in the U.S. with orchids about 1965. The techniques used were soon adapted to many other crops, with important commercial production first occurring with foliage plants. Application to woody plants took longer, but now very significant quantities of fruit, ornamental and forest species are produced. In addition, large quantities of other important crops are being produced, e.g. potatoes, and steady expansion is occurring in the production of herbaceous perennial plants. As the advantages of micropropagated plants become evident, possibilities develop for additional species to be propagated using this technology. The current level of output, 120 million plants per year, will almost certainly continue to grow in the next decade. Labor remains the major cost component of production which limits the number of plant varieties which are commercially propagated. Significantly lower labor costing airlift and flooding bioreactor techniques are rapidly becoming a commercial reality. As such, the number and kinds of plants that will be commercially micropropagated is being greatly enhanced and the need for lower value commodity crops being produced in low labor costing areas of the world is being greatly lessened. Thus international market control through intellectual property rights for proprietary crops and focusing on regional rather than international market needs for commodity crops will dominate future marketing and production issues within micropropagation companies.

Last Modified: 06/23/2017
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