Characterisation of botanical starches as potential substitutes of agar in tissue culture media

  • R Madege
  • E Mneney
  • R Misangu
  • A Maerere
Keywords: Starch, agar, gelling agent, in vitro plant growth.


Seven botanical starches; cassava, sweet potato, Irish potato, maize, rice, wheat and sorghum were characterized to determine physicochemical properties influencing gel formation for preparation of tissue culture media. Total starch, protein, fat, amylose content, swelling power and pH were determined using acid hydrolysis, enzymic and spectrophotmetric methods. Each type of starch was tested for ability to support in vitro plant growth and 0.8% agar (w/v) was used as standard. Nodal explants cultures were initiated in Murashige and Skoog medium supplemented with 3% sucrose and 0.5 mg/l benzylaminopurine (BAP). After 21 days, number of leaves and nodes, plant height and fresh weight were determined for each  treatment. Significant (0.05) differences were observed between starch types in total starch, protein content and fats. Cassava had the highest starch content (81.5%) and irish potato had the lowest (29.3%). Highest protein content (12%) was observed in maize starch and the lowest (3.4%) in cassava. Fat content was highest (6.2%) in wheat and lowest in cassava (0.2%). Starch extract from rice had the highest amylose content (31.12%) while the cassava starch extracts had the lowest (20.75%). The starch extracted from wheat had the highest swelling power (105.1%) while irish potato starch had the lowest (52.1%). Sorghum starch had the lowest pH of 4.57 while the highest (6.92) was recorded in Irish potato starch. The growth of shoots in vitro on agar gelled media outperformed those of starch gelled media except for the number of leaves per shoot which cassava starch media recorded significantly the highest response (P = 0.05). Of all the starch gelled media, the best growth response was observed with cassava. Good performance was observed in starches with high starch content, low amylose content and high swelling powers.
Key words: Starch, agar, gelling agent, in vitro plant growth.

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eISSN: 1684-5315