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Plant Physiol. 1986 Jul;81(3):907-12.

Rapeseed embryo development in culture on high osmoticum is similar to that in seeds.

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  • 1Biology Department, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana 47405.


The development of Brassica napus L. cv Tower embryos of different ages cultured in vitro with and without high osmoticum (0.48 and 0.69 molar sorbitol) was compared with normal development in situ to investigate the role of a drying environment in embryo maturation. Sensitivity to osmoticum was assayed in terms of its ability to mimic normal development, i.e. to both suppress germination and maintain 12 S storage protein (cruciferin) synthesis at levels comparable to those seen in the developing seed. The osmotic conditions used block germination of predesiccation stage embryos but were not sufficient to prevent desiccation stage embryos from taking up water and germinating. At all stages tested, the osmotically treated embryos had approximately normal levels of cruciferin mRNA. Measurements of endogenous abscisic acid (ABA) levels by radioimmunoassay indicated that the osmotic effects on germination and gene expression were not mediated by elevated embryonic ABA. Comparison of the kinetics of osmotic and ABA effects on gene expression showed that the osmotic effect is more rapid. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that ABA acts by inhibiting water uptake, which mechanically prevents germination and affects gene expression in some unknown manner.

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