Tissue Culture and Epigenetics of Their Clones and Descendants

I am pretty new to carnivorous plants, and plants in general, so I do not have enough experience to have my own observations.

My initial assumption prior to any research is that the epigenetics of any clone or seedlings from a tissue cultured plant is entirely independent of the epigenetics of the source.

It seems though that epigenetics are "inheritable" (short excerpt if you are interested: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK21276/ )

I know there is a lot of chatter about tissue culture plants growing funny, and other issues, but rarely mention of anything further.

I am curious about what your experiences with tissue cultured plants are, in terms of the epigenetics of their clones or descendants.
what are the epigenetics of seedlings from tissue cultured parents?
what are the epigenetics of cuttings from tissue cultured plants ?
Are the clones and seedlings of your tissue cultured plant, the same as if it was taken from the original seed grown plant?

If epigenetics are passed on, then what does that mean for carnivorous plants in general?
Will the only normal plants be ones that were descendants of wild harvested seeds or plants?
Even if I buy seeds or buy seed grown plants, does that even matter if the ancestor was tissue cultured?

John Yates

Carnivorous Plant Addict
big open questions there, may a book of explanation needed , with nepenthe's seed can have some variation but over all not a lot unless doing hybrids , seed i have pollinated from same specie plants have seed that mostly look like there parents with the occasional throw off or variant , doing T/c don't mean that it will change any thing unless you want it to , generally T/c plants from a parent will generally look the same, it gets a bit sticky when some may keep multiplying a plant till its over done , and may not grow like it should , this is where new stock is required. when I mean over done , if a nep or plant is continually multiplied it becomes a weak strain and may not grow as well as it did when first cloned .

As far as taking tissue from a T/c plant either in T/c or a plant out of T/C should not change any thing, if its a cutting from that plant then that is what it will be from then on cant change its genetic make up just but taking a cutting

Seed from most CP plants will hold the same genetics as it parent ,it really don't matter if its a T/c plant or wild , just cause some one has used T/c to mainly grow the CP a bit faster or quicker multiplication ,will generally not change any thing just cause its put in to a jar with media .

there are cases when i have got a unusually plant from seed it may be variegated , or have different looking pitchers or growth habit , but mostly there are little changes to plants in the CP area , most do crosses ( Hybridize ) to make the changes , hybrids mainly have better growth rates and can grow in greater ranges of climates, is there benefits ,where specie are more susceptible to climate and micro climate and generally harder to grow out side there natural habit
hope that mite help a bit
The problem isnt so much the actual genetics, the DNA. Its how the genes are expressed, or epigenetics, which is potentially inherited. The mechanisms of which is still poorly understood. I still find it weird, that something that is not in the genes is inherited.

Just because the genetics are the same doesnt mean that these genetics will be expressed in the same way.

So you can have two plants with identical DNA ex. one was wild harvested, and another was a T/c of it. So they have the same genetics, but because of the epigenetics being inherited, offspring from the T/c and wild harvested can be different in general.

Has anyone noticed if T/c offspring, or further clones from cuttings, passes on any epigenetics? what were they?

John Yates

Carnivorous Plant Addict
Epigenetics literally means "above" or "on top of" genetics. It refers to external modifications to DNA that turn genes "on" or "off." These modifications do not change the DNA sequence, but instead, they affect how cells "read" genes. Epigenetic changes alter the physical structure of DNA.Jun 24, 2013

Epigenetics involves genetic control by factors other than an individual's DNA sequence. Epigenetic changes can switch genes on or off and determine which proteins are transcribed. Epigenetics is involved in many normal cellular processes

Genetics”, conceptually, deals with genes and gene function, while “epigenetics” deals with gene regulation. More specifically, genetics focuses on how DNA sequences lead to changes in the cell/host, while “epigenetics” focuses on how DNA is regulated to achieve those changes.

Why is epigenetics so important?
The cell epigenome is dynamic and can be affected by genetic and environmental factors. Furthermore, epigenetic modifications can be reversible, which makes the genome flexible to respond to environment changes such as nutrition, stress, toxicity, exercise, and drugs[17]. ... Stress is an important environmental factor.

A lot more here , for me it dose not make any difference to my plants , but if some one was to like to read more this may help,other than that you may need to find some doing genetic work on CP's and there very few and far between , some one like Prof. Alistair Robinson in Victoria Australia may know, i know well , can ask if some one was interested .



Well, I certainly can't answer that and I'm afraid you'd need a full specialised research lab to do so. It will be quite difficult to separate genetic and epigenetic effects if you look e.g. at somaclonal variation.
Practically I don't think these kind of questions are not very important for those who buy and grow a few plants. In fact other effects like cultivation techniques and artificial selection or reduced selection pressure might be more important than the difference between a plant that made it in the wild compared to a clone of it that went through tissue culture and is being cultivated. Wild harvest of plants and seed may have certain problems (like introduction of diseases and conservation concerns) and in vitro propagation many have others (like loss of genetic variability). It would be misleading to generalise whether wild plants, cultivated plants, or tissue cultured plants are any better choice or more "normal". You'd need to assess each case separately.
Most plants that are taken into in vitro entered it as seed because it is easier and safer. Unless they are exposed to certain chemicals in the process there is not too much difference compared to plants grown from seed in situ / in cultivation. Epigenetic is complex. There are a few surprising examples of epigenetic effects that are slow to reverse, may be inherited, or may even seem irreversible. But it is not like something that is not in the genes or something learned is inherited. The expression of existing gene sequences are either turned off or on while the genetically coded sequence remains the same. Genes that may be suppressed because of environmental conditions may be sooner or later reactivated, e.g. after another environmental stress like what happens when entering or breaking dormancy.
Certainly there is room for a lot of speculation. But anyone who's doing in vitro, please feel free to share your experiences with odd observations.

John Yates

Carnivorous Plant Addict
thanks Eric.
one thing with Nepenthes , there has been no one that has been successful to my knowledge, to have wild or cultivated tissue that has been successfully propagated into T/c , many have tried most have failed , seen a few that said they have succeeded, but never hear from them again?? so only one conclusion there , could be wrong but doubt it , where most other CP's have been very successful over the many years.
the only way for nepenthes is to germinate from seed in T/c first ,then take that tissue to propagate or multiply the plants in T/c , is the way its been done .

John Yates

Carnivorous Plant Addict
So you can have two plants with identical DNA ex. one was wild harvested, and another was a T/c of it. So they have the same genetics, but because of the epigenetics being inherited, offspring from the T/c and wild harvested can be different in general.

different it what way ?? this to me make no sense ? what would be different in the plant the visual seeing of the plant , pitchers , colour ,what are you looking for here ?
I definitely dont have the resources to see myself.

I mean I would have to have two wild neps same species one Male the other female. Make tissue culture clones of each. Care for all of them till they are all mature and can make seeds. Then breed and get seeds from the wild parents same for the t/c version, then grow these seeds and observe any general differences, which would have to be statistically significant enough to say that both samples of children are different.
That's already at least a ten year in investment just on the 1st generation test. I'd probably be dead by the time I have any realizations.

Still the whole idea of epigenetics is just weird in general dont you think? To me it's like if I get a hair cut and then have a baby that is born with the same hair cut as a result and when that child has kids he'll pass that hair cut down as well.

I dont understand where the data transfer is it's basically magic to me.

Anyway the real purpose of this thread is more to see what people have seen in their own collections.

I wanna hear some crazy epigenetics and t/c experiences. Like 5 generations in from the t/c parent and there is still something obviously peculiar.

Lloyd Gordon

Parasitic Plant Aficionado
Staff member
Imagine a library. Put one book in a lockbox. The key is misplaced. No data transfer. But the immediately available information is different. A few months later the key is found, the lock opened. Now the information is available. This is analogous (but not equivalent) to epigenetics.

John Yates

Carnivorous Plant Addict
I wanna hear some crazy epigenetics and t/c experiences. Like 5 generations in from the t/c parent and there is still something obviously peculiar.

I very much doubt any T/c person would give up 5 or 6 years or more of work to any one ,its just to hard to work out and do to give info away , you may need to set up your own lab and start doing the experiments.


CPSC Moderator
Staff member
I'm pretty new to TC, only have started learning about it few years ago. From what I have seen, some plants do express a weird appearance in vitro, however when extracted, they look just like any other regular plants as you would expect. I don't believe the TC process would mess up a plant in anyway, it is mainly a method to accelerate growth in a controlled environment.

John Yates

Carnivorous Plant Addict
by adding PGR 's to this mix in various combos you can get some different growth in the media depending on the plant your working with , but to change its main structure is pointless to me , people are after true spices or hybrids more than throw off or mutants from what i see, especially if your breeding ,those who want different are not so many and the time and effort needed usually dont make it worth while to the person doing it in my experience . tried messing with things just a pain to do !
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