To induce somatic embryogenesis in habanero pepper (Capsicum chinense Jacq.), the cultivar BVll-03, belonging to the red type, was used. Different explants were evaluated, as were different culture media, the composition of which varied in the content of plant growth regulators. Results showed the formation of somatic embryos from cotyledons, zygotic embryos, germinated zygotic embryos, hypocotyls, and cotyledonary leaves. Explants were cultured on Murashige and Skoog medium supplemented with 2,4-D (9.05 μm). The somatic embryos always formed directly from the explant, without callus formation, and the greatest efficiency was obtained when segments of hypocotyls were cultured, obtaining 175 ± 20 somatic embryos per explant. Only the somatic embryos obtained on Murashige and Skoog medium containing 2,4-D (9.05 μm) and treated with abscisic acid (ABA) (1.89 μm) before their transfer to the germination media (Murashige and Skoog + 1.1 μm GA3) emitted their radicule and expanded their cotyledonary leaves (60%), whereas the remaining embryos did not achieve germination because of different causes (abnormalities, delayed development). Not only is this protocol of somatic embryogenesis the first to be reported for this species (C. chinense Jacq.), but it is also the most efficient reported so far, within the Capsicum genus.
To determine the effect of different nitrogen sources and osmotic regulators on minimal growth of Habanero pepper (Capsicum chinense Jacq.) germplasm for in vitro conservation, different concentrations of nitrate, sucrose, mannitol, and sorbitol were evaluated. The micropropagation system based on culture medium was modified in its nitrate concentrations: reduced to 50% and increased to 150%, and osmoregulators were added to the basal culture media: sucrose (6% and 8%), mannitol (2%, 4%, and 8%), or sorbitol (2%, 4%, and 8%). The apical meristems of germinated plants were cultivated in the different treatments for 35 weeks without subculture. Results have demonstrated that mannitol at 2% had the better effect on minimal growth of the plantlets and did not affect the plant physiology and quality. The plantlets remained small in size, turgent, with green leaves and stems and looked like normal plants until to the end of the evaluation period. Changes in nitrogen media concentration did not prove to be adequate for conserving because they affected the plantlet quality (they became chlorotic). The presence of sorbitol and high osmolite concentrations induced minimal growth but reduced the plant quality. Sucrose at mid or low concentrations did not induce minimal growth.
The in vitro production of ethylene and its effects on the development of Habanero pepper (Capsicum chinense Jacq.) plantlets were evaluated using nonventilated containers (NVCs) and ventilated containers (VCs). Shoots of Habanero pepper between 0.5 and 1.0 cm of height were cultivated in Magenta culture boxes and samples of the headspace atmosphere were taken every four days during the previously established culturing time of 40 days. The presence of ethylene was detected in the NVCs and produced a negative effect on the development of plantlets. In a second phase of this work, the effect of silver nitrate (AgNO3) and cobalt chloride (CoCl2) on ethylene production was evaluated during in vitro development of Habanero pepper plantlets. Concentrations of 50, 300, and 500 μm of each ethylene inhibitor were used in the culture medium. Although cobalt chloride partially inhibited the production of ethylene during in vitro culture of this species, at low concentrations the plantlets presented some degree of vitrification and the highest concentration proved to be toxic for the plantlets. Silver nitrate added to the culture medium did not inhibit ethylene production, however, it did inhibit the effect of this hormone on the plantlets. In fact, when high concentrations of silver nitrate were used (300 μm), high amounts of ethylene were detected in the headspace of the vessels and plantlets were actually healthier.