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J Exp Bot. 2000 Jul;51(348):1277-87.

Developmental changes and water status in tulip bulbs during storage: visualization by NMR imaging.

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Department of Biomolecular Sciences, Wageningen University, Wageningen NMR Centre, The Netherlands.


Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and light and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) were used to follow time-dependent morphological changes and changes in water status of tulip bulbs (Tulipa gesneriana L., cv. 'Apeldoorn') during bulb storage for 12 weeks at 20 degrees C (non-chilled) or 4 degrees C (chilled) and after planting. MR images reflecting the water content, the relaxation times T1 and T2 (or their reciprocal values, the relaxation rates R1 and R2), and the apparent self-diffusion coefficient of water molecules (ADC), were obtained for intact bulbs. After planting, scape elongation and flowering occurred only in chilled bulbs, while elongation in non-chilled bulbs was retarded. Microscopic observations showed different structural components and high heterogeneity of the bulb tissues. MRI revealed the elongation of the flower bud during storage, which was significantly faster in the chilled bulbs. In addition, MRI demonstrated a redistribution of water between different bulb organs, as well as significant differences in the pattern of this redistribution between the chilled and non-chilled bulbs. Generally, R2 relaxation rates became faster in all bulb organs during storage. At the same time, ADC values remained constant in the chilled bulbs, while exhibiting a significant increase in the non-chilled bulbs.

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