The use of natural pressurised forced ventilation in plant micropropagation
A new, uncomplicated system for the forced ventilation of plants and cultures has been investigated in terms of both its efficiency of ventilation and its effects on the growth and physiology of various plant species, including cauliflower, tobacco, Annona (custard apple) and potato. This new system, which has no moving parts or artificial energy requirement, provides a sustained, pressurised stream of sterile, humidified air (RH = 70-94%) driven by humidity-induced diffusion. This process depends upon the maintenance of a gradient of water vapour across a microporous partition for inducing the diffusion of air into the apparatus. Flows up to 5 cm³ min¯¹ can be produced and the atmosphere in a 60 cm³ culture vessel can be renewed every 12 min Compared to the standard conventional diffusive method of ventilation, e. g. by capping the vessel with a polypropylene disc, this new system has proved to be 18X more efficient in removing accumulated ethylene and in keeping CO₂ and O₂ levels in culture vessels close to atmospheric. This forced ventilation system has also been shown to be very effective in the in vitro cultivation of seedlings or cuttings of cauliflower, tobacco, Annona and potato for improving growth and preventing symptoms of vitrification such as leaf epinasty, reduction of leaf area and production of abnormal stomata. In potato cuttings the induction and production of microtubers have been promoted and the growth of abnormal callus prevented. In Annona cuttings flower bud production, leaf and shoot growth and micropropagation have been promoted and leaf and flower bud abscission have been reduced. In cauliflower, tobacco and Annona the leaf chlorophyll contents, rates of photosynthesis and yields were improved by this forced ventilation. These beneficial effects have been variously attributed to the efficient removal of ethylene, the maintenance of near to atmospheric levels of CO₂ and O₂ by day and night and to the reduction of humidity levels in the vessels to below 100% RH. It is hoped that this new ventilation system, which is comparatively inexpensive and requires very little maintenance might have some useful applications in the field of tissue culture and perhaps particularly in developing countries.