Variation in transcript abundance during somatic embryogenesis in gymnosperms
Tree Phys. 2004, 24, 1073-1085
Stasolla C, Bozhkov PV, Chu T-M, van Zyl L, Egertsdotter U, Suarez MF, Craig D, Wolfinger RD, von Arnold S, Sederoff RR

Summary
Somatic embryogenesis of Norway spruce (Picea abies L.) is a versatile model system to study molecular mechanisms regulating embryo development because it proceeds through defined developmental stages corresponding to specific culture treatments. Normal embryonic development involves early differentiation of proembryogenic masses (PEMs) into somatic embryos, followed by early and late embryogeny leading to the formation of mature cotyledonary embryos. In some cell lines there is a developmental arrest at the PEM–somatic embryo transition. To learn more about the molecular mechanisms regulating embryogenesis, we compared the transcript profiles of two normal lines and one developmentally arrested line. Ribonucleic acid, extracted from these cell lines at successive developmental stages, was analyzed on DNA microarrays containing 2178 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) (corresponding to 2110 unique cDNAs) from loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.). Hybridization between spruce and pine species on microarrays has been shown to be effective (van Zyl et al. 2002, Stasolla et al. 2003). In contrast to the developmentally arrested line, the early phases of normal embryo development are characterized by a precise pattern of gene expression, i.e., repression followed by induction. Comparison of transcript levels between successive stages of embryogenesis allowed us to identify several genes that showed unique expression responses during normal development. Several of these genes encode proteins involved in detoxification processes, methionine synthesis and utilization, and carbohydrate metabolism. The potential role of these genes in embryo development is discussed.

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