Ed Stover and Eric W. Mercure
Eric W. Mercure, Carol A. Auer and Mark H. Brand
Tissue proliferation (TP) is characterized primarily by the formation of galls or tumors at the crown of container-grown rhododendrons propagated in vitro. However, TP of Rhododendron `Montego' is observed initially in in vitro shoot cultures and it is characterized by the formation of multiple shoots with small leaves and nodal tumors. The formation of shoots in `Montego' TP (TP+) shoot cultures occurs without the presence of exogenous cytokinin in the medium, unlike normal `Montego' (TP–) shoot cultures, which require cytokinin for shoot growth. Structural studies have shown that tumors are composed of many adventitious buds and parenchyma cells, suggesting that TP is a result of abnormal cytokinin regulation that is controlling tumor and shoot formation. Two approaches are being used to determine if differences in cytokinin concentration and/or metabolism exist between TP+ and TP– shoot cultures. In the first approach, shoot cultures are grown in vitro for 1 week in the presence of tritiated isopentenyladenine (iP). Cytokinin uptake and metabolism are analyzed using HPLC and other analytical methods. Experiments suggest that extensive degradation and N-glucoside conjugation occur in TP+ and TP– shoots, resulting in the removal of most of the exogenous iP. In the second approach, the levels of endogenous cytokinins such as iP, isopentenyladenosine, zeatin, and zeatin riboside, are being measured in TP+ tumors and shoots and in TP– shoots by an ELISA method.