Annual Growth and Development of Scilla peruviana

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  • 1 Dept. of Plant Science, The Univ. of British Columbia, Vancouver BC, V6T 1Z4, Canada

Scilla peruviana is a bulbous plant whose distribution extends from South Africa, into Europe and Asia. It belongs to the family Liliaceae (subclass Monocotyledonae). S. peruviana is an attractive floral species with excellent commercial potential, but it does not produce many bulblets and its multiplication rate is very low. Increasing the multiplication rate, and regulation of its growth and development, cannot be achieved without knowledge of its basic patterns of ontogenesis. We studied the annual growth and development of S. peruviana, from initiation until differentiation, giving special attention to cytological changes at the apical meristem. We also investigated the cytophysiological changes occurring in scales during ontogenesis. Two generations of daughter bulbs are present in each mother bulb. Flowering of the mother bulb coincides with vegetative development of the apical meristem of the primary daughter bulb (March-April). During gradual senescence of leaves and roots of the mother bulb, the apical meristem of the primary daughter bulb undergoes a transition from vegetative to prefloral development (June). Intensive flower organ differentiation occurs in the daughter bulb during the mother bulb's rest period (July–August). Initiation of the apical meristem of the secondary daughter bulb occurs within the primary daughter bulb, which is itself enclosed within the mother bulb (August). The development of the apical meristem of a daughter bulb, from its initiation until flowering, thus occurs without interruption and takes ≈20 months. By modifying external factors such as temperature and growth regulators, we can now control time of flowering and increase the multiplication rate of S. peruviana.

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