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Histochem J. 1983 Jan;15(1):21-37.

DNA, RNA, protein and heterochromatin changes during embryo development and germination of soybean (Glycine max L.).


DNA, RNA, protein and heterochromatin were measured cytophotometrically in developing soybean (Glycine max) seeds. The average 2C DNA content for the soybean genome was 2.64 pg. The amounts of nuclear DNA in embryo axes showed no significant change during embryo development, whereas the DNA content in cotyledon nuclei increased significantly from 3.58 pg to 5.49 pg. The number of endopolyploid nuclei increased from 26% to 48% and the DNA content from 4.45 to 5.49 pg after cessation of cell division. The changes in RNA and protein content during embryo development were in general similar to those in DNA content. This can be interpreted that increased DNA levels in soybean cotyledons generated during embryogeny increase the protein synthesizing capacity. During the first 15 days of germination, the number of endopolyploid nuclei in cotyledons declined from 46% to 4%, and this decline is interpreted as DNA degradation providing a ready source of nucleosides and phosphates during early embryo growth. A later decline, however, between 15 and 20 days after germination, was age related similar to leaf senescence, because the percentage of endopolyploid nuclei remained unchanged while the number of non-viable cells increased. In senescing cotyledons, 73% and 80% of RNA and protein but only 20% of DNA were lost, as compared to dormant cotyledons. The heterochromatin (condensed chromatin) measurements indicated that nuclei of metabolically inactive dormant and senescent cotyledon nuclei contained an average of 33% more heterochromatin than nuclei from the green cotyledons of seedlings.

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