Using tissue culture and ‘cloning’ for rare plant conservation: Introducing STEM Careers


This resource is part of the SAPS Careers in Science series, a set of resources to support science teachers in integrating STEM careers information with practical activities. This resource is aimed at students aged 14-16 (KS4).

In this resource, students carry out a ‘cauliflower cloning’ tissue culture practical to investigate totipotency in plants. The practical is placed in the context of a STEM careers case study, to give students a broader understanding of the underlying science.

Students are introduced to Jonathan Kendon, a conservation biotechnologist who works in the Conservation Biotechnology Department at the Royal Botanic Garden Kew. Jonathan specialises in conserving endangered plant species from around the world, using tissue culture among other techniques. In this short case study, he talks about his work.

Our well-known¬†cauliflower cloning practical is based on a micropropagation technique developed by Jonathan’s colleagues at Kew. Students will read about Jonathan, carry out the practical, and then consider how micropropagation can be used more broadly for conservation. This can then be broadened out into a wider consideration of seed banks, conservation, food security and crop breeding.

This resource includes full teachers’ notes, foundation, higher, extension and plenary activities, a case study, a students’ worksheet and technical notes for the practical.

Further information, including diagrams of the protocol and video guidance, can be found on the SAPS cauliflower cloning resource page.

Starter activity: Case study and questions
Foundation activity: Micropropagation (‘cloning’) cauliflowers
Higher activity: The Millennium Seed Bank
Extension activity: Food security
Plenary activity: To conserve or not to conserve?


Careers education

Motivate and engage young people so more of them want to continue to study science and make it their career.


How science works

Pupils should be taught to:

  • collect data from primary and secondary sources, including using ICT sources and tools
  • work accurately and safely, individually and with others, when collecting first-hand data
  • recall, analyse, interpret, apply and question scientific information or ideas.


Environment, Earth and university

Pupils will understand that the effects of human activity on the environment can be assessed using living and non-living indicators.

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