How to become a Tissue Culture Technician

Tissue culture technicians use various techniques to asexually reproduce live tissue, under laboratory conditions, producing specimens that are genetically identical to, or different from, the parent tissue. The process of producing genetically identical specimens is commonly known as cloning. Tissue culture is used for a wide variety of commercially important agricultural and horticultural plants, in the propagation of rare and endangered plant species, and in the growth of tissues or cells used in health and medical research and treatments.

Personal requirements of a Tissue Culture Technician

  • Good eyesight (may be corrected)
  • Good hand–eye coordination
  • Able to concentrate on detail
  • Able to keep records accurately

Education & Training for a Tissue Culture Technician

You can work as a tissue culture technician without formal qualifications. You will probably get some informal training on the job. Entry to this occupation may be improved if you have qualifications. You may like to consider a VET qualification in laboratory skills, laboratory techniques or laboratory technology. As subjects and prerequisites can vary between institutions, you should contact your chosen institution for further information. You can also become a tissue culture technician through a traineeship in Laboratory Skills, Laboratory Techniques or Laboratory Technology. Entry requirements may vary, but employers generally require Year 10. For more details, see Section 2. Ask your career adviser about the possibility of starting some of this training in school.

Duties & Tasks of a Tissue Culture Technician

Tissue culture technicians may perform the following tasks:

  • clean, sterilise and maintain equipment and facilities
  • set up and operate equipment, including microscopes, environmental chambers (incubators) and centrifuges
  • select live material with the desired characteristics
  • dissect and test tissues or cells for viruses and other diseases
  • prepare selected tissues or cells for reproduction
  • prepare reproductive and growth chemical solutions (medias) suitable for the species to be cloned
  • chemically treat selected tissues or cells to induce genetic mutations
  • place tissues or cells in sterile chemical solutions or medias and place on shakers to initiate reproduction or growth
  • place reproduced plant material in sealed sterile containers containing a nutrient gel, then grow under controlled temperature and light conditions, repeating this process until the specimens are of sufficient size
  • grow samples of cloned cells or organisms to maturity and monitor them for desirable or undesirable genetic mutations (genotypes) or characteristics (phenotypes)
  • record results by using computers or other methods.

Working conditions for a Tissue Culture Technician

Tissue culture technicians mostly work in laboratories, with a small amount of field and shadehouse work.

Employment Opportunities for a Tissue Culture Technician

Employment opportunities exist in universities and in federal, state and territory government organisations, as well as with private agricultural/horticultural firms and medical research laboratories and institutions. Job prospects depend on the level of government funding, the extent of private sector research, and competition from people with degrees trying to enter the field by starting as a technician.

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