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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2012

Patterning during somatic embryogenesis in Scots pine in relation to polar auxin transport and programmed cell death

Abrahamsson, Malin; Larsson, Emma; Clapham, David; Von Arnold, Sara


Somatic embryogenesis is a useful tool to propagate conifers vegetatively. However, a major limitation in many pine species is the low quality of cotyledonary somatic embryos. The aim of this study has been to elucidate the developmental pathway of somatic embryos in Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris), to identify deviations from the normal pathway and to identify processes that might disturb normal development. Initially we compared the developmental pathway of somatic embryogenesis in representative cell lines yielding cotyledonary embryos with normal and abnormal morphology. Early embryos carrying suspensor cells in excess of the normal number (supernumerary) were more frequent in cell lines giving rise to abnormal cotyledonary embryos. In this study we show that the frequency of early somatic embryos with supernumerary suspensor cells increased after treatment with the auxin transport inhibitor 1-N-naphtylphthalamic acid (NPA). Furthermore, the yield of developing embryos increased significantly after treatment with the antiauxin 2-(4-chlorophenoxy)-2-methylpropionic acid (PCIB), but the morphology of the embryos was not affected. The number of cells undergoing PCD was analyzed using a TUNEL-assay. The frequency of TUNEL-positive cells was high both in proliferating cultures and during differentiation of early somatic embryos. However, the pattern of TUNEL-positive cells was similar in normal somatic embryos and in embryos with supernumerary suspensor cells. Together our results suggest that the presence of supernumerary suspensor cells in early somatic embryos of Scots pine is caused by disturbed polar auxin transport and results in aberrant embryo development.


Embryo patterning; NPA; PCIB; Pinus sylvestris; Polar auxin transport; Programmed cell death; Scots pine; Somatic embryogenesis

Published in

Plant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture
2012, Volume: 109, number: 3, pages: 391-400
Publisher: SPRINGER