Plant Cell Culture Reagents

Photo by Harry F. Holloway, CCP and Jeff McAdams. Courtesy of Carolina Biological Supply Co.

Tobacco callus serves as the starting material for cell culture.
The culture of plant cells began as a method to simplify studies of plant biology, but applications of this technology have become big business. Many researchers are genetically engineering plants to be hardier or more nutritious. Others want to harness the plants' ability to produce beneficial compounds at will, especially since plant-derived products have been shown to combat human diseases such as malaria, heart disease, osteoporosis, and cancer.

Of the many antitumor agents extracted from plants over the years, the most famous example comes from the bark of the Pacific yew tree. Paclitaxel was isolated in the early '70s, underwent clinical trials in the '80s, and was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1992.1 Paclitaxel is the...

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