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Planta. 2005 Dec;222(6):977-88. Epub 2005 Jul 21.

Leafy cotyledon genes are essential for induction of somatic embryogenesis of Arabidopsis.

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Department of Genetics, University of Silesia, 40-032, Katowice, Poland.


The capacity for somatic embryogenesis was studied in lec1, lec2 and fus3 mutants of Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh. It was found that contrary to the response of wild-type cultures, which produced somatic embryos via an efficient, direct process (65-94% of responding explants), lec mutants were strongly impaired in their embryogenic response. Cultures of the mutants formed somatic embryos at a low frequency, ranging from 0.0 to 3.9%. Moreover, somatic embryos were formed from callus tissue through an indirect route in the lec mutants. Total repression of embryogenic potential was observed in double (lec1 lec2, lec1 fus3, lec2 fus3) and triple (fus3 lec1 lec2) mutants. Additionally, mutants were found to exhibit efficient shoot regenerability via organogenesis from root explants. These results provide evidence that, besides their key role in controlling many different aspects of Arabidopsis zygotic embryogenesis, LEC/FUS genes are also essential for in vitro somatic embryogenesis induction. Furthermore, temporal and spatial patterns of auxin distribution during somatic embryogenesis induction were analyzed using transgenic Arabidopsis plants expressing GUS driven by the DR5 promoter. Analysis of data indicated auxin accumulation was rapid in all tissues of the explants of both wild type and the lec2-1 mutant, cultured on somatic embryogenesis induction medium containing 2,4-D. This observation suggests that loss of embryogenic potential in the lec2 mutant in vitro is not related to the distribution of exogenously applied auxin and LEC genes likely function downstream in auxin-induced somatic embryogenesis.

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