Plant micropropagation is an efficient method of propagating disease-free, genetically uniform and massive amounts of plants in vitro. The micropropagation from cells can be achieved by direct organogenesis from hairy roots or regeneration via somatic tissue. Once the availability of embryogenic cell and hairy root systems based on liquid media has been demonstrated, the scale-up of the whole process should be established by an economically feasible technology for their large-scale production in appropriate bioreactors. It is necessary to design a suitable bioreactor configuration that can provide adequate mixing and mass transfer while minimizing the intensity of shear stress and hydrodynamic pressure. Automatic selection of embryogenic calli and regenerated plantlets using an image analysis procedure should be associated with the system. Using the above systems, it will be possible to establish an advanced plant micropropagation system in which the plantlets can be propagated without soil under optimal conditions controlled in plant factory. The aim of this review is to identify the problems related to large-scale plant micropropagation via somatic embryogenesis and hairy roots, and to summarize the most recent developments in bioreactor design. Emphasis is placed on micropropagation technology and computer-aided image analysis, including the successful results obtained in our laboratories.
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