Tissue culture as a plant production technique for horticultural crops
Over 100 years ago, Haberlandt envisioned the concept of plant tissue culture and provided the groundwork for the cultivation of plant cells, tissues and organs in culture. Initially plant tissue cultures arose as a research tool and focused on attempts to culture and study the development of small, isolated cells and segments of plant tissues. At the peak of the plant tissue culture era in the 1980s, in a relatively short time, many commercial laboratories were established around the world to capitalize on the potential of micropropagation for mass production of clonal plants for the horticulture industry. Today plant tissue culture applications encompass much more than clonal propagation. The range of routine technologies has expanded to include somatic embryogenesis, somatic hybridization, virus elimination as well as the application of bioreactors to mass propagation. Perhaps the greatest value of these tissue culture technologies lies not so much in their application to mass clonal propagation but rather in their role underpinning developments and applications in plant improvement, molecular biology and bioprocessing, as well as being a basic research tool. Plant tissue culture technique though an underutilized tool in Nigeria, it can be extensively applied in horticulture to increase crop production. This paper highlights some of the applications of plant tissue culture to horticulture, the achievements and limitations of tissue culture and some insights into current and possible future developments. With rapid population growth, the total acreages of fruits, vegetables and various ornamental plants have not been able to meet the needs of people in the developing countries.