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National Certification System for Tissue Culture Plants (NCS-TCP)


Plant Tissue Culture Technology offers great promise for the production of quality planting material on account of disease free and true to type/ genetically uniform plants produced through micropropagation techniques. The need for a certification programme for the tissue culture plants is imperative since inadvertent micropropagation of virus infected plants will not only result in its poor performance, but also in undesirable spread of viruses wherever such plants are grown. Also, failure to use prescribed standard protocols will result in variations in the plants produced. The most deleterious variants in tissue culture raised plants are those that effect yield, genetic fidelity/ uniformity and carry infection of viruses, and other fastidious pathogens, which are difficult to diagnose. This is an area of great concern, accordingly a well-structured system has been put in place to provide support to the tissue culture industry for the commercialization of tested virus free and high quality planting material.

Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India has been authorized by Ministry of Agriculture has vide Gazette of India Notification dated 10th March 2006 notified that “In exercise of the powers conferred under section 8 of the seeds Act, 1966 (54 of 1966), to act as Certification Agency for the purpose for certification of the tissue culture-raised propagules up to laboratory level and to regulate its genetic fidelity as prescribed by them”. Accordingly a National Certification System for Tissue Culture Plants (NCS-TCP) has been developed.

NCS TCP System


The NCS-TCP is well organized. The components and their role and responsibilities are given below:

I. Tissue Culture Certification Agency (TCCA)

The Certification Agency (DBT) is responsible for implementing the National Certification System for Tissue Culture Plants (NCS-TCP) in the Country. An Accreditation Cell of Project Management Unit (PMU)has been setup for undertaking Accreditation of Test Laboratories for testing of Virus and Genetic Fidelity/ Uniformity and also Recognition of Tissue Culture Production Facilities, based on the established guidelines and criteria. Referral Laboratories have been identified for carrying out confirmatory tests, if required, and also for developing standard protocols, maintenance of referral material, training etc. The Certification Agency is overall responsible for developing standard tests, production protocols/guidelines and manuals. It will also set-up a Monitoring Unit which will be responsible for monitoring issue of certificates by Accredited Test Laboratories.

II. Accreditation Panel (AP)

The Certification Agency maintains a panel of experts to undertake initial assessment of laboratory facilities for virus diagnosis and genetic fidelity/ uniformity testing for accreditation and/or periodical auditing of accredited facilities for granting renewal/revalidation/ reinstatement. The Accreditation Panel makes an assessment of the tissue culture production facility. The panel comprises experts specialized in plant tissue culture/plant biotechnology/plant virology/plant bacteriology/ molecular biology and a phytosanitary expert. The Accreditation Panel submits its assessment report based on established criteria/guidelines to the accreditation cell of PMU for grant of accreditation/ recognition. The guidelines for Accreditation of laboratory facilities for Virus diagnosis and genetic fidelity/ uniformity testing and for Recognition of tissue culture production facilities are at Annexure-I. The Accreditation cell of PMU ensures that the eligibility criteria of application and mandatory criteria of self assessment report are met with prior to initial assessment of facility for accreditation/recognition.

III. Accreditation Cell of Project Management Unit

An Accreditation cell of PMU has been established by the Certification Agency at National Institute of Plant Genome Research (NIPGR), Aruna Asaf Ali Marg, New Delhi - 10067. for assisting DBT in Accreditation of laboratory facilities for virus diagnosis and genetic fidelity/ uniformity testing of tissue culture raised plants and Recognition of Tissue Culture Production Facilities.

IV. Referral Laboratory (RL)

The DBT has designated Referral laboratory (ies) for virus diagnosis/genetic fidelity/ uniformity testing of tissue cultures plants. Referral Centre for Virus Indexing- Advanced Centre for Plant Virology, Division of Plant Pathology, Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi-110012. Referral Centre for Genetic Fidelity: National Institue for Plant Biotechnology (NIPB), LBS center, IARI, PUSA Campus, New Delhi-110012. The referral laboratory is responsible for carrying out confirmatory tests in the event of dispute or nonconformity of test results. The referral laboratory usually will not involve in routine virus diagnosis/genetic fidelity/ uniformity testing of tissue culture raised plants, however as per the decision of the Tissue Culture Certification Monitoring Unit, the Referral Laboratories will undertake random testing of samples at different Test Laboratories.

V. Accredited Test Laboratories (ATL)

Test laboratories will be Accredited entities of the public sector, responsible for testing the Tissue Culture material for virus diagnosis and genetic fidelity/ uniformity, for purpose of certification. The Test laboratory will prepare a Test Report based on tests conducted in conformity with the standards/protocols/guidelines. Based on the Test Report, each Accredited Test Laboratories will be authorized to issue the Certificate of Quality for the Tissue Culture Plant (CQ-TCP) and Certification Label on behalf of the Certification Agency. ATLs will be responsible for maintaining all diagnostic kits, primer, probes etc required for routine testing. Each ATL would perform both tests-for virus diagnosis and true-to-type/ genetic uniformity.

VI. Appellate Authority (AA)

An Appellate Authority under the Chairpersonship of Secretary, DBT established to review the decision taken with regard to Accreditation of Test laboratories, Recognition of Tissue Culture production facilities and also for Certification of tissue culture material. The Nodal Officer designated by the Certification Agency will act as Member Secretary.
The members represented in the appellate panel will include:
Officer in-charge, Accreditation Unit
Head, Certification Monitoring Unit
Two Co-opted non-officio experts by Chairperson (Virology and Genetic fidelity Testing)

VII. Committee / Panel

Apex Commitee
Accreditation Panel (AP)
Project Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (PMEC)
Technical working committee