Glass Bead Liquid Culture Technology

Plant media being placed into a culture vesselTo propagate new plants, tissue is taken from an existing plant and placed in a culture with growth hormones and nutrients. The traditional culture medium is agar gel (DeChakrabarty, 2003), which is produced from the cell walls of certain types of seaweed. In this type of tissue culture, the cost of the agar constitutes 80% of the cost of the entire culture.

Photo of plantlets propagated with Glass Bead Liquid Culture Technology

With Glass Bead Liquid Culture Technology (GBLCT), sterilized glass beads and liquid nutrients are used to replace the agar as the culture medium. By using the glass beads, the cost of the media is brought down by 94% on a per plant basis. When GBLCT is used in conjunction with autotrophic micropropagation, the per plant media cost is reduced by 98% in commercial crops. Autotrophic micropropagation is different from conventional tissue culture in that the media does not contain any carbon (sugar) source and the plants synthesize their own food.

In many other ways, GBLCT is different from traditional tissue culture. Agar is a gel, while in GBLCT the media is a liquid that surrounds the glass beads. This allows for aeration when the culture vessels are shaken. According to Dr. Robert G. Lindermann, president of Plant Health LLC, this shaking process, which is done at different speeds depending on the plant material being cultured, homogenizes the nutrients and growth hormones so that the plant tissue receives the correct amount (personal communication, July 23, 2007). The glass beads offer a greater surface area between the explant (the excised piece of plant tissue that is used to initiate the tissue culture) and the liquid medium. GBLCT facilitates the efficient uptake of the nutrients in the medium and this enhances the growth of the plant. The toxic metabolites that leach out of the explants during the culture process are effectively dispersed with GBLCT. Using glass beads with liquid beneath them provides good root aeration for the plantlets and this, combined with the high humidity in the culture vessels, results in plants that need less hardening because they develop a stronger root system. Hardening is the process by which the new plantlets produce cuticle (the waxy covering on the leaves) and functional roots before they can be planted in the field. This process is difficult to apply on a grass root level, so using plants produced through GBLCT which are easier to harden is a benefit to rural farmers.
Turmeric plantlet in culture vessel with GBLCT

The plantlets that are propagated using GBLCT have many other superior characteristics. A 100% survival rate of in vitro regenerated plantlets can be achieved with GBLCT. When propagating Ginger and Turmeric, the plantlets grown with GBLCT produced more tillers (offshoots or suckers from the main stem), leaves and fresh rhizome (storage runners that grow sideways off the root).Plantlets being placed into soil for hardening In foliage and flowering plantlets, GBLCT produces plants with an increased number of shoots and flowers. Increased multiplication rates are achieved in plants regenerated using GBLCT, which reduces the production cost of crop plants and increases the delivery capacity of commercial tissue culture labs. Overall, GBLCT has the capacity to produce stronger, healthier plants at a faster rate with less plant loss than traditional tissue culture. Dr. Prakash says, “this technology has tremendous potential in increasing the food productivity, conserving the bio-diversity, sustainable eco-agriculture and greening the globe” (Pillai, 2003).



  1. brogans said,

    August 2, 2007 at 4:05 am

    Tasha, your paper is really interesting! One suggestion- you might want to put the copyright info with the picture…I think it’s required and somewhere in the instructions.

  2. galardit said,

    August 2, 2007 at 5:19 am

    These are all personal photos that were sent to me by Dr. Prakash, so I don’t think they require a copyright. I am going to check into that further. Thanks!

  3. K Rao said,

    May 20, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    I would like to have a workable link to the original publication and/or successful patent document to the GBLCT as I find some one else also is claiming credits to the invention.

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