Low Cost Tissue Culture Technology in the Regenerat ion of Sweet Potato ( Ipomoea batatas (L) Lam)
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Sweet potato production in Eastern Africa has been declining due to lack of healthy planting materials. Developing countries have not maximised in vitrosweet potato regeneration due to the high costs incurred. The objective of this research was to reduce the cost of sweet potato tissue culture nutrients by using affordable alternative nutrient sources. The conventional sources of Murashige and Skoog (MS) salts were substituted with Easygro® vegetative fertilizer containing both macro and micronutrients. Two grams of the fertilizer were supplemented with 30 g/L of table sugar and 9 g/L of agar. Conventional MS medium supplemented with 30 g/L of sucrose and 3 g/L of gelrite was used as the control. Two farmer-preferred sweet potato varieties, Kemb-36 and Tainurey were initiated on the two media. The mean number of nodes, leaves,roots and plant height were determined and comparisons made between the two media. There was 96.9% reduction in the cost of the nutrients used in media preparation. Significant differences were detected on the number of nodes produced by Kemb-36 on the two media with plantletscultured on the low cost medium producing four nodes per plantlet while those cultured on the conventional MS medium had an average of five nodes per plantlet. Significant differences were not detected on the number of nodes produced by Tainurey on the two media. The developed low costmedium can be used to boost the production of affordable disease-free sweet potato seedlings.