The influence of root initiation medium pH on root formation was investigated in relation to uptake and metabolism of applied IBA in microcuttings of Malus ×domestica Borkh. `Gala' and `Triple Red Delicious'. Root formation and uptake of H3-IBA were related inversely to root initiation medium pH. Maximum root count (10.3 roots) and IBA uptake were observed at pH 4.0. Regardless of pH, overall root count of `Gala' was higher (13.5 roots) than `Triple Red Delicious' (4 roots). Uptake of IBA was highest at pH 4.0 for `Gala' (1.7% uptake) and at pH 4 and 5 for `Triple Red Delicious' (0.75% uptake). Metabolism of IBA was the same regardless of root initiation medium pH or cultivar examined. One-half of the IBA taken up was converted to a compound that coeluted with IBAsp during high-performance liquid chromatography. Apparently, pH regulates root formation by affecting IBA uptake but not metabolism. The level of auxin in tissue appeared unrelated to root formation between genotypes. Chemical names used: 1H-indole-3-butyric acid (IBA); 5-H3-indole-3-butyric acid (H3-IBA); indole-3-butrylaspartic acid (IBAsp).
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