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D.J. Gray, D.W. McColley, and Michael E. Compton

A protocol for high-frequency somatic embryogenesis in Cucumis melo L. was developed using `Male Sterile A147 as a model cultivar. Basal halves of quiescent seed cotyledons were cultured on embryo induction (EI) medium containing concentration ranges of the auxin 2,4-D and the cytokinins BA, Bin, TDZ, or 2iP before transfer to embryo development (ED) medium. Medium with 2,4-D at 5 mg·liter-1 and TDZ at 0.1 mg·liter-1 was superior, with 49% of explants responding and an average of 3.3 somatic embryos per explant (6.8 somatic embryos per responding explant). More explants produced embryos when incubated on EI medium for 1 or 2 weeks (30% and 33%) than for 3 or 4 weeks or with no induction. However, 2 weeks was 2.9 times better than 1 week in terms of number of embryos per explant. One week of initial culture in darkness, followed by a 16 hour light/8 hour dark photoperiod, produced more responding explants (26%) than two or more weeks in darkness or no dark period at all; but 1 and 2 weeks of darkness resulted in a similar number of embryos per explant (2.1 and 2.8). Sucrose concentration in EI and ED media had a highly significant effect on embryo induction and development. EI medium with 3% sucrose resulted in more embryogenic explants than EI medium with 1.5% or 6% sucrose. However, treatments with 3% sucrose in EI medium and 3% or 6% sucrose in ED medium produced significantly more embryos per explant (8.5 and 11.9) than other treatments. Treatments did not affect embryo induction directly and regeneration per se but, instead, frequency and efficiency of somatic embryo development. The optimal treatments were tested with 51 other commercial varieties. All varieties underwent somatic embryogenesis, exhibiting a response of 5% to 100% explant response and 0.1-20.2 embryos per explant. Chemical names used: N-(phenylmethyl)-lH-purin-6-amine (benzyladenine or BA); N-(2-furanylmethyl)-lH-purin-6-amine (kinetin or BIN); N-phenyl-N'-1,2,3-thiadiazol-5-ylurea (thidiazuron or TDZ); N-(3-methyl-2-butenyl)-lH-purin-6-amine (2iP); (2,4-dichlorophenoxy) acetic acid (2,4-D).

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Michael E. Compton, J.W. Harris, and D.J. Gray

Ploidy of in vitro watermelon plantlets was estimated by painting the lower epidermis of leaves with fluorescein diacetate (FDA) and observing fluorescence of guard cell chloroplasts with a microscope and UV light. Leaves from shoot-tip cultures of known diploid and tetraploid cultivars were used to establish the mean number of chloroplasts per guard cell pair for in vitro plantlets. Leaves from diploid and tetraploid plantlets had 9.7 and 17.8 chloroplasts per guard cell pair, respectively. This method was used to estimate ploidy of shoots regenerated from cotyledon explants of the diploid cultivar Minilee. Approximately 10.6% of regenerated shoots were classified as tetraploid while still in vitro. Putative tetraploids were transplanted to the field and self-pollinated. A majority of polyploids identified in vitro were true breeding, nonchimeric tetraploids. This study demonstrate that FDA can be used to estimate ploidy of in vitro shoots of watermelon prior to acclimatization and transfer of plants to the greenhouse or field.

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Sadanand A. Dhekney, Zhijian T. Li, Michael E. Compton, and Dennis J. Gray

Stamens and pistils from mature grapevines and leaves from in vitro micropropagation cultures were used to optimize parameters influencing somatic embryogenesis in Vitis. Embryogenic competence was dependent on species/variety, explant type and developmental stage, medium composition, and growth regulator concentration. Of varieties evaluated, a greater number produced embryogenic cultures from stamens and pistils (26) compared with leaves (six). Among the different stamen and pistil stages, Stage II and III explants produced the maximum embryogenic response regardless of genotype and medium composition. Of seven culture media tested, the highest embryogenic response was recorded from varieties cultured on MSI (18) and PIV (16) media. Experiments annually repeated over 3 to 10 years demonstrated reproducible results. Highly reliable protocols for somatic embryogenesis were obtained for 29 Vitis species and varieties, including 18 Vitis vinifera varieties, Vitis riparia, Vitis rupestris, Vitis champinii, and eight Vitis hybrids. Embryogenic cultures were maintained on X6 medium for a period of 6 months to 2 years depending on the variety and used in studies involving genetic transformation and transgenic plant regeneration.