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Amnon Levi, Hazel Y. Wetzstein and Glen A. Galau

The coordinate expression of mRNA classes in pecan (Carya illinoensis) zygotic and somatic embryos has been studied. MRNA was isolated from zygotic embryos at early and late maturation stages (12 to 22 weeks post-pollination) and during germination. Additionally, mRNA was isolated from somatic embryos derived from a repetitive embryogenic system prior and after cold (6 weeks at 4°C) and desiccation treatments (5 days). These treatments have been determined to enhance somatic embryo conversion. The abundance of embryogenic mRNA classes was determined using various cloned cotton mRNA probes (Hughes and Galau, 1989). This study is a part of our efforts to elucidate the developmental and physiological differences between zygotic and somatic embryo systems in pecan.

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Amnon Levi, Hazel Y. Wetzstein and Glen A. Galau

Repetitive somatic embryogenic lines of pecan (Carya illinoensis) were obtained and subcultured on basal WPM, following a one week induction of zygotic embryo tissue on modified WPM with 6 mg/L NAA. Gene expression of somatic embryos has been studied and compared with that occurring in zygotic embryos. Somatic embryos simultaneously expressed mRNA classes that are specific to each of the zygotic embryo cotyledon (Cot), maturation (Mat), and post abscission stages (Late embryogenesis, Lea). Somatic embryos exhibiting such multiple, nonregulated gene expression patterns have a low germination rate. Treatments found to enhance embryo germination (cold and desiccation) may be effective in part, by modifying gene expression patterns. Some of the Cot and Mat mRNA classes decreased following such treatments, while Lea mRNAs were not effected. Cold and desiccation treatments appear to coordinate gene expression in pecan somatic embryos, which might be associated with embryo germination.