An improved forced ventilation micropropagation system was designed with air distribution pipes for uniform spatial distributions of carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration and other environmental factors to enhance photoautotrophic growth and uniformity of plug plantlets. Single-node stem cuttings of sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam. `Beniazuma'] were photoautotrophically (no sugar in the culture medium) cultured on a mixture of vermiculite and cellulose fibers with half-strength Murashige and Skoog basal salts in a scaled-up culture vessel with an inside volume of 11 L (2.9 gal). CO2 concentration of the supplied air and photosynthetic photon flux on the culture shelf were maintained at 1500 μmol·mol-1 and 150 μmol·m-2·s-1, respectively. Plantlets grown in forced ventilation systems were compared to plantlets grown in standard (natural ventilation rate) tissue culture vessels. The forced (F) ventilation treatments were designated high (FH), medium (FM), and low (FL), and corresponded to ventilation rates of 23 mL·s-1 (1.40 inch3/s), 17 mL·s-1 (1.04 inch3/s), and 10 mL·s-1 (0.61 inch3/s), respectively, on day 12. The natural (N) ventilation treatment was extremely low (NE) at 0.4 mL·s-1 (0.02 inch3/s), relative to the forced ventilation treatments. On day 12, the photoautotrophic growth of plantlets was nearly two times greater with the forced ventilation system than with the natural ventilation system. Plantlet growth did not significantly differ among the forced ventilation rates tested. The uniformity of the plantlet growth in the scaled-up culture vessel was enhanced by use of air distribution pipes that decreased the difference in CO2 concentration between the air inlets and the air outlet.
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