Many physiological responses in plants are influenced by pH. The present chemiosmotic hypothesis suggests that auxin uptake into plant cells is governed by pH. Since auxin is used widely to enhance rooting, the influence of pH on 1H-indole-3-butyric acid (IBA) induced adventitious root formation was examined. Roots were initiated aseptically in 5 node apical shoot cuttings of micropropagated Malus domestica 'Gala'. Initiation was induced using a four day pulse in IBA and 15 g/L sucrose at pH 5.6 and 30C in the dark. Observations showed pH rose to 7.0 or greater within 1 to 2 days from microcutting placement in unbuffered initiation medium. Root numbers from shoots in media containing 1.5 μM IBA buffered with 10 mM 2[N-morpholino] ethanesulfonic acid (MES) to pH 5.5, 6.0, 6.5 or 7.0 with KOH resulted in average root numbers of 14.2, 10.9, 8.7, and 7.1, respectively, while unbuffered medium yielded 7,6 roots per shoot. Comparison of MES buffered medium at pH 5.5, 6.25 or 7.0 in factorial combination with IBA at 0, 0.15, 1.5, 15.0, and 150.0 μM resulted in a significant pH by IBA interaction for root number. At 0, 0.15 and 1.5 μM IBA root numbers were greatest at pH 5.5. At 15.0 μM IBA, pH 6.25 was optimal and at 150.0 μM IBA all three pH levels produced equivalent root numbers. A calorimetric assay to measure IBA removal from the initiation medium by microcuttings of `Gala' and `Triple Red Delicious' showed more IBA removal at pH 5.5 than at pH 7.0. Possible reasons for the effect of pH on adventitious root formation will be discussed.
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