The role of activated charcoal in plant tissue culture

Biotechnol Adv. 2008 Nov-Dec;26(6):618-31. doi: 10.1016/j.biotechadv.2008.08.003. Epub 2008 Aug 22.


Activated charcoal has a very fine network of pores with large inner surface area on which many substances can be adsorbed. Activated charcoal is often used in tissue culture to improve cell growth and development. It plays a critical role in micropropagation, orchid seed germination, somatic embryogenesis, anther culture, synthetic seed production, protoplast culture, rooting, stem elongation, bulb formation etc. The promotary effects of AC on morphogenesis may be mainly due to its irreversible adsorption of inhibitory compounds in the culture medium and substancially decreasing the toxic metabolites, phenolic exudation and brown exudate accumulation. In addition to this activated charcoal is involved in a number of stimulatory and inhibitory activities including the release of substances naturally present in AC which promote growth, alteration and darkening of culture media, and adsorption of vitamins, metal ions and plant growth regulators, including abscisic acid and gaseous ethylene. The effect of AC on growth regulator uptake is still unclear but some workers believe that AC may gradually release certain adsorbed products, such as nutrients and growth regulators which become available to plants. This review focuses on the various roles of activated charcoal in plant tissue culture and the recent developments in this area.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods
  • Charcoal*
  • Culture Media
  • Plant Development*
  • Plant Roots / growth & development
  • Seeds / growth & development
  • Tissue Culture Techniques


  • Culture Media
  • Charcoal