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Can J Bot. 1997 Mar;75(3):501-8.

The role of endogenous ethylene in the expansion of Helianthus annuus leaves.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, Canada.


The possible role of ethylene in leaf expansion of the primary leaves of sunflower plants (Helianthus annuus) was studied. Our lowest application of ethephon promoted expansion of primary leaves. Higher concentrations of ethephon, and a range of concentrations of 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid, increased endogenous ethylene concentration and caused a reduction in the area of the primary leaves. The inhibition in leaf expansion induced by ethephon and 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid was reversed by pretreating the plants with an inhibitor of ethylene action, namely silver thiosulphate. Treating leaves with lower concentrations of aminoethoxyvinylglycine reduced ethylene production and stimulated leaf expansion. This effect of aminoethoxyvinylglycine could be nullified by pretreating the plants with 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid. Treatment with silver thiosulphate enhanced leaf expansion. This indicates that endogenous ethylene normally plays a significant role in leaf expansion. Flooded and gravistimulated plants produced more ethylene and had smaller leaves. This could suggest that the increased ethylene is the main cause of the slowed leaf growth, however, only in some cases were we able to partially reverse the effect of flooding with silver thiosulphate. This indicates that there are probably many factors, in addition to increased ethylene, that inhibit leaf expansion in flooded and gravistimulated plants.

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