The Plant Tissue and Cell Culture Laboratory has been conducting research on plant tissue culture since 1973. The first breakthrough is the success in the mass propagation of pineapple plantlets in 1974. For the first ten years, most of the research activities were concentrating mainly on micro propagation of ornamental plants such as orchids (Phalaenopsis spp., Vanda spp., Dendrobium spp.), African violet, Gloxinia spp, Begonia spp., different fern varieties and ornamental palms. In the eighties, micropropagation studies were extended to other fruit trees, the bananas (Musa spp.) and the papaya (Carica papaya cv exotica).
Due to the growing importance of herbal medicinal plants and Malaysia being among the top 12 countries that has the most diversified plant species with medicinal values, research activities have thus expanded to micropropagation of local medicinal plants and the production of bioactive compounds with medicinal values using plant cell culture techniques since early 1990’s. A wide variety of plant cells have been cultured on chemically defined media and many secondary products are detected in these cultures. A two-stage system was employed for the production of the secondary products from various medicinal plants. This technique has enabled us to successfully produce useful alkaloids from Tongkat Ali cultured cells, Artemisinin from Artemisia annua plant cells, rosmarinic acid from misai kucing cells, juvenile hormone III from Cyperus aromaticus and natural dye from senduduk plant cells.