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Hypocotyl of seedlings of the large-seeded species Araucaria angustifolia: an important underground sink of the seed reserves

Dillenburg, Lúcia Rebello, Rosa, Luís Mauro Gonçalves, Mósena, Morgana
Trees 2010 v.24 no.4 pp. 705-711
Araucaria angustifolia, Araucaria bidwillii, germination, hypocotyls, photosynthates, roots, seedlings, shoots, soil, trees
Araucaria angustifolia exhibits cryptogeal germination, where the root-hypocotyl axis emerges first and penetrates into the soil. In Araucaria bidwillii, the whole process of transferring reserves from the seed to the seedling takes place before shoot emergence, and there is a major storage of these reserves in the underground hypocotyl, which assumes a tuberous form. In A. angustifolia, the shoot emerges before seed reserves are depleted. Though it does not grow like a tuber, the hypocotyl of A. angustifolia grows thicker than the adjacent taproot during initial growth, and we hypothesize that it may act as a major sink for seed reserves during this stage. The study tests this hypothesis by evaluating changes in the mass of different plant parts during initial growth. Four harvests were conducted during a ~6-month period to compare the dry mass of different fractions (attached seed, seedling, its shoot and root and the hypocotyl) of seedlings growing under darkness and high light. While seed reserves were still being depleted, the hypocotyl mass showed an initial increase and then a reduction. This was more abrupt when light was available. After seed mass had stabilized, the mass of the hypocotyl continued to decrease in the dark-grown seedlings, but showed a second increase in the light-grown ones. Results confirm the hypothesis that the hypocotyl represents a major sink for the seed reserves of A. angustifolia, acting as an underground storage structure for the growing seedling. Its reserves seem to be important for sustaining initial shoot growth and might also act as a storage sink for photosynthates.