Auxins in Plant Cell Culture

Seedlings rely on auxins and cytokinins for directed growth.
Image by onehundredseventyfive from Pixabay

Auxins are a class of plant hormones that play a crucial role in plant cell culture. They are involved in various aspects of plant growth and development, including cell elongation, root initiation, apical dominance, and tissue differentiation. In plant cell culture, auxins are commonly used to stimulate cell division, induce callus formation, and promote the regeneration of whole plants from explants.

They are also important factors when considering the balance between cytokinin and auxin ratios.

The Key Roles of Auxins in Plant Cell Culture

Callus Induction

Auxins, such as indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) and 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), are frequently used to induce callus formation from explants. By supplementing the culture medium with auxins, undifferentiated mass of cells called callus can be generated from various plant tissues. Callus serves as a starting material for further tissue differentiation and plant regeneration.


Auxins play a crucial role in the process of organogenesis, where specific plant organs such as shoots or roots are regenerated from callus. By manipulating the concentration and combination of auxins in the culture medium, it is possible to induce the formation of shoots or roots from callus. This approach is commonly used in micropropagation techniques to produce large numbers of uniform plantlets.

Root Formation

Auxins are essential for root initiation and development in plant tissue culture. They promote the formation of adventitious roots from explants or callus cultures. By providing the appropriate concentration and combination of auxins, root induction can be achieved, allowing the production of plantlets with well-developed root systems.

Somatic Embryogenesis

Auxins are involved in somatic embryogenesis, a process where somatic cells are induced to develop into embryos. By manipulating the concentration of auxins in the culture medium, somatic cells can be reprogrammed to undergo embryogenic development, leading to the production of somatic embryos. Somatic embryogenesis is widely used for the propagation of many plant species and for the production of synthetic seeds.

Growth Regulation

Auxins play a role in regulating the growth and development of cultured plant cells. They control cell elongation and division, influencing the growth patterns of cells and tissues. By modulating the concentration of auxins in the culture medium, it is possible to manipulate the growth rate and morphology of cultured cells.

There is an important balance between another key class of plant hormones, the cytokinins.  Higher concentrations of cytokinins relative to auxins promote shoot development, while lower concentrations favour root development. 

Overall, auxins are vital for plant cell culture as they facilitate the induction of callus, promote organogenesis and somatic embryogenesis, stimulate root formation, and regulate cell growth. Their precise control and manipulation in culture media allow researchers to manipulate plant cells and tissues, leading to applications such as plant propagation, genetic transformation, and the production of valuable secondary metabolites.

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