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The Right Autoclave for Tissue Culture Cannabis Production

Tissue culture cannabis micropropagation seems like nothing but win-win-win: Higher productivity (and thus greater profits) in a smaller space with more reliable genetics and heartier plants.  This time lapse video shows three days of tissue culture cannabis growth in the lab:

The catch?  In order to get those reliable genetics you need “pharmaceutical-grade cleanliness,” a true clean-room operation.  That means investing in lab equipment, and especially an autoclave.

Finding the Right Autoclave for Tissue Culture Cannabis Micropropagation

Your autoclave serves two vital roles in your tissue culture lab.  The most obvious is in sterilizing equipment and glassware, to assure you aren’t bringing in any disease or fungus from your explants.  But the more important task is in preparing your growth media.

Many autoclaves for sale in the United States—even when labeled “research-grade”—are repurposed medial-grade units.  These are still excellent sterilizers for many applications, but they really underperform when handling growth media. (Growth media prep isn’t a daily task in most small medical settings, so these units simply aren’t designed with media handling in mind).  If growth media preparation is going to be a regular task, consider a research-grade autoclave optimized for handling growth media.  A proper research-grade autoclave will have an ASME-stamped pressure vessel (as a simple matter of safety).  It should also pair delayed start and media warming functions, so that growth media can be processed overnight and kept ready-to-pour first thing in the morning.

If you are considering a used autoclave, make sure to ask about the warranty (any autoclave should carry at least a three-year warranty), service options (Are techs available?  Are replacement parts easy to acquire, or does the autoclave rely on many custom pieces only sold by the OEM?), if the pressure vessel is ASME-stamped, and—if possible—what the autoclave was previously used to process. Autoclaves used to regularly handle pathogenic loads (including waste loads) in the U.S. can harbor some nasty surprises in their exhaust and drain plumbing.