Proliferation of meristematic clusters in disposable presterilized plastic bioreactors for the large-scale micropropagation of plants

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SummaryProliferation of meristematic clusters of several plants in an inexpensive airlift bioreactor system, consisting of a disposable presterilized light transmittable plastic film vessel is described. The optimal shape, size, and structural function of the disposable plastic bioreactor are based on the bubble column and airlift glass bioreactors. The disposable bioreactors are designed in a conical configuration with a single inoculation and harvest port and multiple use dispensing and mixing accessories. Shearing damage and foaming problems known to exist in bioreactors due to the plant's rigid cell wall and size were greatly reduced in the disposable plastic bioreactors. The disposable bioreactors were used for propagule proliferation and growth, using meristem and bud clusters of potato, fern, banana, and gladiolus. The clusters' biomass increased five-to eightfold over a period of 26-30 d, depending on the species. The clusters were separated mechanically by a chopper made of a grid of knives. The chopped propagules were inoculated to agar medium for further growth and developed into transplantable plants. In the case of gladiolus and potato, corms and tubers developed in a sucrose-elevated storage organ induction medium, respectively, after the initial formation of small shoots. The plantlets and storage organs were transplanted to an acclimation greenhouse and continued to grow with a 95-100% survival, depending on the species. Plant development was followed for a period of 16 wk in fern and 12-14 wk in potato, banana, and gladiolus and normal shoot and leaf growth was observed. The feasibility of large-scale liquid cultures for plant micropropagation is discussed.

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