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Toward establishing a morphological and ultrastructural characterization of proembryogenic masses and early somatic embryos of Araucaria angustifolia (Bert.) O. Kuntze

Steiner, Neusa, Farias-Soares, Francine L., Schmidt, Éder C., Pereira, Maria L. T., Scheid, Bruna, Rogge-Renner, Gladys D., Bouzon, Zenilda L., Schmidt, Daniela, Maldonado, Sara, Guerra, Miguel P.
Protoplasma 2016 v.253 no.2 pp. 487-501
Araucaria angustifolia, apoptosis, cell nucleolus, developmental stages, electron microscopy, endangered species, organelles, proteins, somatic embryogenesis, somatic embryos, starch granules
Somatic embryogenesis is a morphogenetic route useful for the study of embryonic development, as well as the large-scale propagation of endangered species, such as the Brazilian pine (Araucaria angustifolia). In the present study, we investigated the morphological and ultrastructural organization of A. angustifolia somatic embryo development by means of optical and electron microscopy. The proembryogenic stage was characterized by the proliferation of proembryogenic masses (PEMs), which are cellular aggregates composed of embryogenic cells (ECs) attached to suspensor-like cells (SCs). PEMs proliferate through three developmental stages, PEM I, II, and III, by changes in the number of ECs and SCs. PEM III-to-early somatic embryo (SE) transition was characterized by compact clusters of ECs growing out of PEM III, albeit still connected to it by SCs. Early SEs showed a dense globular embryonic mass (EM) and suspensor region (SR) connected by embryonic tube cells (TCs). By comparison, early somatic and zygotic embryos showed similar morphology. ECs are round with a large nucleus, nucleoli, and many cytoplasmic organelles. In contrast, TCs and SCs are elongated and vacuolated with cellular dismantling which is associated with programmed cell death of SCs. Abundant starch grains were observed in the TCs and SCs, while proteins were more abundant in the ECs. Based on the results of this study, a fate map of SE development in A. angustifolia is, for the first time, proposed. Additionally, this study shows the cell biology of SE development of this primitive gymnosperm which may be useful in evolutionary studies in this area.