Wondering if Loki or OSM are still out there working on micro-propagation? Did we get flowers from any in-vitro cuttings yet? This is fucking inspiring.
So, I'm setting up a sterile lab right now with pretty similar ambitions: small mothers that are easy to carry around, and virus-free to boot if I can pull off cell culture like you have Loki. Apparently the meristem cells aren't connected to the vascular system of the plant yet, so cuttings from the very tips haven't been infected with any viruses or diseases that the plant may have. Can clean up old mothers. And I'm really thinking about applying this to a future vineyard, and seeing if vines from explants are just as vigorous as traditional cuttings -- in a few years I'm hoping to have a library of red wine grapes on my book shelf. I've already got 30 varieties of cuttings to start taking explants from when they break bud next month. I'm fucking stoked!
So I'm setting up the sterile lab now, and want to share some of the books and online resources that are helping me along, and hope there are some seasoned micro-propagators still around to throw questions at every now and then.
This book has an amazingly clear, DIY guide to tissue culture: "Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms" by Paul Stamets (http://www.fungi.com/books/stamets.html
And on the same website there's "Plants from Test Tubes: An introduction to micropropagation" which has medium recipes for 24 different plants and outlines the basics. Haven't finished this book yet, but it's been a very good primer on the subject, and very approachable with just a high school chemistry background. Stamets' book has a more detailed look at setting up a sterile lab though; it's aimed at putting together a professional grade set-up, or adapting the professional set-up to the hobbyist scale. Which is what I'm working on now. Bloody expensive hobby to start up on, but if you DIY, it doesn't have to cost your first-born's college tuition. So far I've spent 70 bucks on the raw materials for a large plastic tent (1" pvc for a 4'x6'x6' frame, duct tape, 6 mil plastic,and velcro for a door) and I built a laminar flow hood (http://www.fungi.com/tools/airfilters.html
) about the size of the series II for the cost of a sheet of furniture grade ply, a flange for my 6" inline fan, and the $230 bucks for a 2'x2' HEPA filter. Sealed it up tight with wood glue and caulk. I already have the fan to blow thru the laminar flow hood (a 6" can/filter combo; keeping a carbon filter downstream of the HEPA filter to prolong it's life). So those 1200 dollar units on the website can really be made at home for 300-odd dollars, plus a fan.
So at this point I have a small, airtight space I can spray down with a bleach solution before I work, and a filter that screens the air down to .3 microns with 99.99% efficiency: the air in that workspace is effectively sterilized of airborne germ and mold spores, and in a tent, it's being recirculated/resterilized a couple of times a minute. I still need to pick up a pressure cooker, agar, scalpels, alcohol lamp, petri dishes... but I should have it all together within a month. And then the mad experiments!
Hope some of the old heads are still around. Take it easy.