Hormonal control of root development on epiphyllous plantlets of Bryophyllum (Kalanchoë) marnierianum: role of auxin and ethylene

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Epiphyllous plantlets develop on leaves of Bryophyllum marnierianum when they are excised from the plant. Shortly after leaf excision, plantlet shoots develop from primordia located near the leaf margin. After the shoots have enlarged for several days, roots appear at their base. In this investigation, factors regulating plantlet root development were studied. The auxin transport inhibitor 2,3,5-triiodobenzoic acid (TIBA) abolished root formation without markedly affecting shoot growth. This suggested that auxin transport from the plantlet shoot induces root development. Excision of plantlet apical buds inhibits root development. Application of indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) in lanolin at the site of the apical buds restores root outgrowth. Naphthalene acetic acid (NAA), a synthetic auxin, reverses TIBA inhibition of plantlet root emergence on leaf explants. Both of these observations support the hypothesis that auxin, produced by the plantlet, induces root development. Exogenous ethylene causes precocious root development several days before that of a control without hormone. Ethylene treatment cannot bypass the TIBA block of root formation. Therefore, ethylene does not act downstream of auxin in root induction. However, ethylene amplifies the effects of low concentrations of NAA, which in the absence of ethylene do not induce roots. Ag2S2O3, an ethylene blocker, and CoCl2, an ethylene synthesis inhibitor, do not abolish plantlet root development. It is therefore unlikely that ethylene is essential for root formation. Taken together, the experiments suggest that roots develop when auxin transport from the shoot reaches a certain threshold. Ethylene may augment this effect by lowering the threshold and may come into play when the parent leaf senesces.

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