Uses of Plant Stem Cells

Stem cells can be extracted from meristems of plants. If a stem cell extracted from a plant meristem is kept in the right conditions, it will develop into a new plant.

This is possible because a plant stem cell can differentiate into any cell type from that plant. Therefore, through cell division and differentiation, a single plant stem cell can become an entire plant.

Plants produced using this technique are clones of the original plant, meaning that they are genetically identical to it.

Diagram of plant cloning. A plant is shown and then there is a zoomed in image of a meristem at the tip of one of the shoots. An arrow shows that stem cells have been extracted from this meristem, and another arrow shows that these stem cells have been grown into clones of the original plant.

Stem cells extracted from plant meristems can be grown into new plants that are genetically identical to the original plants. In others words, the new plants are clones of the original plant.

Although the new plants are clones of the original plant, this does not necessarily mean that they will have identical characteristics to it since plant characteristics are also affected by the environment.

This technique provides a quick and relatively cheap way to clone plants, which has many uses.

For example:

  • Rare plant species can be cloned in order to protect them from extinction.
  • Crop plants that have desirable features, such as disease resistance, can be cloned to produce more genetically identical plants for farmers to grow.
Photograph of Wood's Cycad (a plant).

Wood's Cycad - one of the world's rarest plants. Only one has ever been found in the wild. It has separate male and female plants, and the one that was found was a male. Unless a female is found, it will never reproduce naturally. However, new plants have been produced through cloning. Image: Purves, M. on Wikimedia Commons (GNU Free Documentation License:

Photograph of a field of wheat with a combine harvester in the distance harvesting the wheat.

A field of wheat, which is a crop. Crop plants with desirable features can be cloned to produce more genetically identical plants for farmers to grow.


Flashcards help you memorise information quickly. Copy each question onto its own flashcard and then write the answer on the other side. Testing yourself on these regularly will enable you to learn much more quickly than just reading and making notes.


How can plant stem cells be used to make more plants?


What are the advantages of using stem cells to clone plants?


What are some uses of plant cloning?


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