Cloning in plants

Cells from meristems can be cloned. Meristematic cells are removed from a plant and grown in tissue culture. The cells are grown in a culture medium that contains agar – to provide support and water for the growing cells – along with nutrients and plant hormones to stimulate growth and cell division.

Plants are cloned to produce identical plants quickly and economically.

Producing new plants by cloning is quicker than allowing plants to reproduce and collecting and sowing seeds. It’s therefore an effective way of producing new individuals from rare and endangered plants, helping to preserve the species.

Diagram showing how plants can be cloned

Clones will be genetically identical to the original plant providing the meristem cells. This is useful to provide crop plants for large-scale cultivation that have desirable characteristics such as disease resistance.

Tissue culture and cloning are important in growing identical plants produced by genetic engineering.

Cloning in plants also occurs naturally, for instance, in runners in strawberry plants. An older, simpler method of cloning plants that gardeners use to produce new, identical plants is by taking cuttings.