Biotechnologists use tissue cultures to grow cell lines, increase production of certain plants, and perform medical research on diseases. In order to culture, or grow, cells from a tissue sample, doctors and biotechnologists must gather cells from existing tissue. This is accomplished through an invasive collection process that can involve removing a piece of tissue through cutting, or swabbing.
Culturing of the collected cells can take place in a test-tube, which is commonly known as in-vitro, a round culture dish, or an incubator. After placing the tissue specimen in a suitable environment, a liquid is added that feeds the cultured cells, and encourages growth. The culture is then monitored for alterations and growth, until it is ready for use.
The purpose of most animal or human tissue cultures is to propagate cells for the purposes of experimentation, or to diagnose a medical condition. In order to collect a tissue culture from a human or animal, a scraping or cut piece of tissue is often taken. During a test for infectious organisms in the intestines, for example, a small piece of the intestine tissue must be cut away as the culture. A doctor must remove the required tissue, which is watched for infectious cell growth. The growth of cells in the tissue sample will determine the presence of certain organisms in the tissues.
The purpose of plant tissue cultures is typically to produce large amounts of a bush, plant, or flower from one small tissue specimen. Micro-propagation of plant tissue is simpler than medical procedure collections of human or animal tissue. Botanists take a tissue sample from various parts of the plant. The part of the plant that serves as a source for the tissue culture depends on the species of plant. These tissue cultures are then used to grow additional plant cells, as a form of reproduction.
The process of taking a tissue culture from a plant doesn't usually damage the original plant, as the botanist needs only a small amount of cells. Once the tissue culture begins and the plant starts growing, it provides many root plants, which are then available for planting.