Developmental pathways of somatic embryogenesis

Sara Von Arnold, Izabela Sabala, Peter Bozhkov, Julia Dyachok, Lada Filonova

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

440 Scopus citations


Somatic embryogenesis is defined as a process in which a bipolar structure, resembling a zygotic embryo, develops from a non-zygotic cell without vascular connection with the original tissue. Somatic embryos are used for studying regulation of embryo development, but also as a tool for large scale vegetative propagation. Somatic embryogenesis is a multi-step regeneration process starting with formation of proembryogenic masses, followed by somatic embryo formation, maturation, desiccation and plant regeneration. Although great progress has been made in improving the protocols used, it has been revealed that some treatments, coinciding with increased yield of somatic embryos, can cause adverse effects on the embryo quality, thereby impairing germination and ex vitro growth of somatic embryo plants. Accordingly, ex vitro growth of somatic embryo plants is under a cumulative influence of the treatments provided during the in vitro phase. In order to efficiently regulate the formation of plants via somatic embryogenesis it is important to understand how somatic embryos develop and how the development is influenced by different physical and chemical treatments. Such knowledge can be gained through the construction of fate maps representing an adequate number of morphological and molecular markers, specifying critical developmental stages. Based on this fate map, it is possible to make a model of the process. The mechanisms that control cell differentiation during somatic embryogenesis are far from clear. However, secreted, soluble signal molecules play an important role. It has long been observed that conditioned medium from embryogenic cultures can promote embryogenesis. Active components in the conditioned medium include endochitinases, arabinogalactan proteins and lipochitooligosaccharides.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-249
Number of pages17
JournalPlant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002


  • Conditioning factors
  • Regulation of embryo development
  • Tracking of somatic embryogenesis
  • Zygotic embryos

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Horticulture


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