Zygotic and somatic embryo morphogenesis in Pinus pinaster: Comparative histological and histochemical study

Susana Tereso, Kurt Zoglauer, Ana Milhinhos, Célia Miguel, M. Margarida Oliveira

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31 Citations (Scopus)


We compared morphogenesis and accumulation of storage proteins and starch in Pinus pinaster Ait. zygotic embryos with those in somatic embryos grown with different carbohydrate sources. The maturation medium for somatic embryos included 80 μM abscisic acid (ABA), 9 g l-1 gellam gum and either glucose, sucrose or maltose at 44, 88, 175 or 263 mM in the presence or absence of 6% (w/v) polyethylene glycol (PEG) 4000 MW. Maturation medium containing 44 or 88 mM of a carbohydrate source produced only one or no cotyledonary somatic embryos per 0.6 g fresh mass of culture. The addition of PEG to the basal maturation medium resulted in a low yield of cotyledonary somatic embryos that generally showed incomplete development and anatomical abnormalities such as large intercellular spaces and large vacuoles. High concentrations of maltose also induced large intercellular spaces in the somatic embryonic cells, and 263 mM sucrose produced fewer and less developed cotyledonary somatic embryos compared with 175 mM sucrose, indicating that the effect of carbohydrate source is partially osmotic. Zygotic embryos had a lower dry mass than somatic embryos at the same stage of development. Starch granules followed a similar accumulation pattern in zygotic and somatic embryos. A low starch content was found in cotyledonary zygotic embryos and in somatic embryos developed in the presence of 175 mM maltose or 263 mM glucose. In zygotic embryos and in PEG-treated somatic embryos, protein bodies appeared later and were smaller and fewer than in well-developed somatic embryos grown without PEG. We propose that storage protein concentration might be a marker of embryo quality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)661-669
Number of pages9
JournalTree Physiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2007


  • Carbohydrates
  • Maritime pine
  • Maturation
  • Polyethylene glycol
  • Starch
  • Storage proteins


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