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Plant Cell. 1996 Feb;8(2):323-332.

kurkku, a Phenotype of Acetabularia acetabulum That Is Arrested in Vegetative Growth, Can Be Rescued with Wild-Type Cytoplasm.

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  • 1Department of Botany, Box 355325, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195-5325.


We isolated several spontaneous phenotypes in the giant unicell Acetabularia acetabulum that have vegetative terminal morphologies. Because they arrest in vegetative development, these cell lines are effectively immortalized. However, they had to be rescued before they could be studied via classical genetics because no heterozygotes from the original self-crosses were found, that is, the wild-type siblings yielded only wild-type progeny. We attempted to rescue these phenotypes in three ways: by amputating the cell apex, by "piggybacking" the mutant nucleus through development in a binucleate heterokaryon, and by replacing the abnormal apex with a wild-type apex. We used one of our immortal cell lines, kurkku, which has a terminal phenotype consistent with arrest early in the juvenile phase of vegetative development, as a prototype for these rescue methods. The kurkku phenotype segregated 1:3 in the original self-cross in which it arose as if it were a single, recessive Mendelian trait. Although amputation failed to rescue kurkku, we succeeded in compensating for the defect both in binucleate heterokaryons and in apical grafts to wild-type cells. kurkku was always recovered in the progeny of the self-crosses of these grafts. These unique ways of analyzing vegetative mutants, combined with the ability to then perform classical genetics, may make A. acetabulum a powerful unicellular model system for the study of vegetative phase change in plants.

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