What is the Difference Between Animal Cell Culture and Plant Tissue Culture

The main difference between animal cell culture and plant tissue culture is that the animal cells in the culture cannot differentiate into any type of cells in the animal body whereas plant cells can differentiate into any type of cells in the plant body. 

Animal cell culture and plant tissue culture are two types of cell culture techniques used to grow cells under laboratory conditions. Animal cells require all components like proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, etc. in the medium for their survival while plant cells require fewer components for survival. Moreover, animal cells tend to degrade after undergoing a limited number of cell cycles while plant cells can undergo unlimited cell divisions. 

Key Areas Covered 

1. What is Animal Cell Culture
    – Definition, Media, Applications
2. What is Plant Tissue Culture
     – Definition, Regeneration, Types
3. What are the Similarities Between Animal Cell Culture and Plant Tissue Culture
     – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Animal Cell Culture and Plant Tissue Culture
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms 

Animal Cell Culture, In Vitro Cell Growth, Media, Micropropagation, Plant Tissue Culture, Regeneration 

Difference Between Animal Cell Culture and Plant Tissue Culture - Comparison Summary

What is Animal Cell Culture 

Animal cell culture is the in vitro cultivation of animal cells under appropriate conditions. Animal cells especially require a wide range of ingredients for their in vitro growth. Here, glucose and glutamine serve as the main carbon, nitrogen as well as the energy source for the cells. In addition, amino acids, fatty acids and cholesterol, nucleic acid precursors, mineral salts, vitamins, growth factors, antibiotics, and hormones should also be included in the medium. On the other hand, receptor proteins and transport proteins should be there in small quantities. Moreover, the pH of the medium has to be at 7.4, and osmotic pressure should be optimal for the survival of cells. Therefore, the in vitro growth of animal cells in a culture is somewhat difficult.  

What is the Difference Between Animal Cell Culture and Plant Tissue Culture_Figure 1

Figure 1: Cell Culture in a Petri Dish

Media 

Both natural and artificial media are employed in the animal cell culture. Here, natural media contain natural body components while artificial media contain artificial ingredients. The three types of natural media are plasma clots, biological fluids like serum, and tissue extracts like liver, spleen, bone marrow, and embryo extracts. The four classes of artificial media are serum-containing media, serum-free media, chemically-defined media, and protein-free media.  

Applications of Animal Tissue Culture 

  • Genetic manipulation 
  • Production of secondary metabolites like antiviral vaccines, hormones, enzymes, antibodies, etc. 
  • Production of pharmaceutical drugs 
  • Study of uncontrolled cell division in cultures in cancer research 
  • Study of the effect of toxins on cell lines 
  • Study of the structure and function of cells 

What is Plant Tissue Culture 

Plant tissue culture is the in vitro cultivation of plant cells under appropriate conditions. The most significant feature of plant tissue culture is the ability of plant cells to differentiate into any type of cells in the plant body. This helps to regenerate a whole plant from the isolated plant cells. Therefore, the primary aim of plant tissue culture is to produce a large number of regenerable cells at once. Therefore, plant tissue culture becomes the main technique of the micropropagation of plants.  

Difference Between Animal Cell Culture and Plant Tissue Culture_Figure 2

Figure 2: Plant Tissue Culture

Types 

The three main types of plant tissue cultures are callus culture, protoplast culture, and embryo culture. The callus is a mass of undifferentiated and unorganized cells that can differentiate into any type of cells in the plant body. On the other hand, protoplast is the plant cell whose cell wall has been removed.  Besides, an embryo develops from the zygote in sexual reproduction. Finally, root tips are the type of tissue used in root culture. Here, each type of plant tissue cultures is important in various plant transformation studies, and the manipulation of the auxin to cytokinin level of the medium can induce the formation of roots and shoots from the plant cells. 

Similarities Between Animal Cell Culture and Plant Tissue Culture 

  • Animal cell culture and plant tissue culture are two types of cell culture techniques used to grow cells in vitro. 
  • Both techniques use appropriate growth media as well as conditions like pH and temperature for the optimal growth of cells. 
  • Both techniques have a number of applications. 
  • They can be used in genetic manipulation of organisms. 

Difference Between Animal Cell Culture and Plant Tissue Culture 

Definition 

Animal cell culture refers to the in vitro cultivation of organs, tissues and cells at defined temperature using an incubator and supplemented with a medium. Plant tissue culture refers to a collection of techniques used to maintain or grow plant cells, tissues, or organs under sterile conditions on a nutrient culture medium of the known composition. Thus, this is the fundamental difference between animal cell culture and plant tissue culture.

Cell Differentiation 

Animal cells can only undergo the specialized functions of the organ from which they have taken the cells while plant cells can differentiate into any type of cells in the plant body. We can consider this as the main difference between animal cell culture and plant tissue culture.

Nutrients 

Another difference between animal cell culture and plant tissue culture is that animal cells require a wide range of nutrients for in vitro growth while plant cells can grow under a limited number of nutrients in the cell culture. 

Continuity 

Furthermore, animal cells in cultures tend to degrade after undergoing several cell cycles while plant cells in cultures can undergo an unlimited number of cell cycles.  Hence, this is another important difference between animal cell culture and plant tissue culture.

Types  

Adherent cultures and suspension cultures are two types of animal cell cultures while callus culture, protoplast culture, and embryo culture are the three main types of plant tissue cultures.  

Importance 

The usefulness of each is another difference between animal cell culture and plant tissue culture. Animal cell cultures are important in genetic manipulation and the production of secondary metabolites while plant tissue culture is important in the artificial, micropropagation of plants.

Conclusion 

Animal cells cannot differentiate into other types of cells in the animal body. They require a wide range of nutrients for in vitro growth. They also tend to degrade after several cell generations. Moreover, animal cell cultures are important in the production of vaccines, antibodies, etc. On the other hand, plant cells can regenerate the whole plant. They can also undergo unlimited cell divisions stably. Plant tissue culture serves as a technique for the micropropagation of plants. Therefore, the main difference between animal cell culture and plant tissue culture is the stability, media, and the importance of the cell culture.

Reference:

1. M, Ajith Kumar. “Basics on Plant and Animal Tissue Culture.” Bio-Resource, 1 Jan. 1970, Available Here

Image Courtesy:

1. “Cell Culture in a tiny Petri dish” By kaibara87 – originally posted to Flickr as Cell Culture (CC BY 2.0) via Commons Wikimedia  
2. “Plant Tissue Culture Lab – Atlanta Botanical Garden” By Daderot – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia  

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things

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