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QIU’s September edition of the Heart-to-Heart series went international this week, as we welcomed Dr Ashok Kumar Khandel from India’s Sage University to speak on ‘Plant Tissue Culture Technology: An Explorative Commercially Profitable Industry’.

With 20 other institutions from India joining in, the seminar continued the series’ mission of exposing its audience to the various facets of scientific knowledge, applied for the betterment of mankind and the world.

Our guest speaker Dr Ashok is a commercial plant tissue culturist, and has 14 years of teaching as well as research and development experience, in the field of Plant Biotechnology. His research focuses on the in vitro micropropagation of medicinal plants for their sustainable use, along with the production of secondary metabolites, through callus and hairy root culture, for pharmaceutical and commercial reasons.

Besides this, Dr Ashok has provided consultancy services on commercial tissue culture for horticulture, medicinal, ornamental and forest plants species, to 17 organisations. He has previously worked on the conservation of several endangered medicinal plants, and is currently focusing on the commercial micropropagation of banana (Grand Naine), bamboo (Bambusa balcooa), sugarcane (CO 86032) and pomegranate (Super Bhagwa).

Dr Ashok enlightened the participants on the concepts and applications of commercial and conservation-based plant in vitro culture and technology, such as the basic plant tissue culture principles, laboratory set-up and considerations, examples of applications, as well as branding and marketing strategies.

Using the banana plant as an example, he touched on the importance of selecting the best explants and nutrient medium as well as the micropropagation process. He also highlighted the importance of somaclonal variations, genetic fidelity and disease testing in commercial plant tissue culture facilities.

The University would like to thank Dr Ashok Khandel for sharing his expertise with us, and we look forward to more illuminating scientific talks during the Heart-to-Heart with Science series!

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