Comparative In Vitro Growth and Development of Easy- and Difficult-to-Acclimatize Sea Oats (Uniola paniculata L.) Genotypes

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  • 1 Univ. of Florida, Environmental Horticulture, Gainesville, FL 32611
  • | 2 Univ. of Florida, Environmental Horticulture, Gainesville, FL 32611
  • | 3 Univ. of Florida, Environmental Horticulture, Gainesville, FL 32611
  • | 4 Univ. of Florida, Environmental Horticulture, Ft. Pierce, FL 34945-3138

A sea oats (Uniola paniculata L.) micropropagation protocol was previously developed for 28 genotypes that favored multiplication and rooting of shoots in vitro. However, microcutting size, morphology, and acclimatization ex vitro varied considerably among genotypes. In the present study we evaluated the effect of Stage III duration on in vitro morphology, biomass production, and ex vitro survivability of easy-(EK 16-3) and difficult-to-acclimatize (EK 11-1) sea oats genotypes. After 3, 6, and 9 weeks at Stage III, survivability of microcuttings was 85%, 96% and 98% for EK 16-3, and 2%, 27% and 40% for EK 11-1, respectively. After 9 weeks Stage III, EK 16-3 microcuttings had higher shoot dry weights but lower root dry weights than in EK 11-1. Moreover, roots in EK 11-1 were fewer but longer than in EK 16-3. Leaf production was similar in both genotypes. However, leaf elongation was significantly inhibited in EK 11-1, in which 95% of the leaves were ≤ 15 mm long in contrast with EK 16-3, with 50% leaves ≥ 16 mm long after 9 weeks Stage III. Light microscopy examinations showed anatomical similarities between EK 16-3 in vitro leaves and mature ex vitro leaves. Conversely, short in vitro leaves of EK 11-1 exhibited mesophyll disruption and reduced cuticle development. Conceivably, the short leaves had limited photosynthetic competency, thereby reducing ex vitro survival of rooted EK 11-1 microcuttings.

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