AQA A Level Biology

Revision Notes

8.2.4 Producing Tissue Cultures of Explants

Apparatus & Techniques: Producing Tissue Cultures from Cauliflower Explants

  • Creating clones of cauliflowers is used to demonstrate totipotency through the production of tissue culture
  • Cauliflower is used because it is comprised mostly of actively dividing cells and can withstand being handled
  • Many plant cells are totipotent, unlike animal cells, and therefore an entire plant can be reproduced from any of these cells
  • A small piece of the plant is cut, this is called an explant, which is then grown into a new clone of the original plant
  • This technique is used by scientists to reproduce endangered species of plant


  • Disinfectant
  • Sterilising solution
  • Scalpel
  • Gloves
  • Forceps
  • Cauliflower
  • Agar growth medium containing sterilant
  • Container


  • Wipe all surfaces with disinfectant and soak all apparatus in sterilant
    • It is important to ensure a sterile environment so that no fungi contaminate the experiment, which would result in seeing a fungal growth rather than an explant growth
  • Break of a small floret of cauliflower from the plant then using a scalpel, cut a thin section of the floret (about 1cm long)
    • This thin section is the explant
  • Sterilise the explant by soaking it in sterilising solution for 15 minutes, swirling the explant around within the solution every couple of minutes
    • This ensures that the explant is sterile and therefore only cauliflower cells are present
  • Take out the explant using sterilised forceps and add it to a container of agar growth medium
    • The growth medium contains all the nutrients that the plant needs for growth and also contains a sterilant to ensure no contamination occurs throughout the experiment
  • Leave the container holding the agar growth medium and the explant on a sunny windowsill for 3 weeks


  • The result of this experiment is to grow a cauliflower clone from an explant
  • This shows that the cells in the explant have the capability to produce all the different cell types that make up a full cauliflower plant, hence they are totipotent

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