Propagation of Norway spruce via somatic embryogenesis

Sara Von Arnold, Peter Bozhkov, David Clapham, Julia Dyachok, Lada Filonova, Karl Anders Högberg, Mathieu Ingouff, Malgorzata Wiweger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Somatic embryogenesis combined with cryopreservation is an attractive method to propagate Norway spruce (Picea abies) vegetatively both as a tool in the breeding programme and for large-scale clonal propagation of elite material. Somatic embryos are also a valuable tool for studying regulation of embryo development. Embryogenic cell lines of Norway spruce are established from zygotic embryos. The cell lines proliferate as proembryogenic masses (PEMs). Somatic embryos develop from PEMs. PEM-to-somatic embryo transition is a key developmental switch that determines the yield and quality of mature somatic embryos. Withdrawal of plant growth regulators (PGRs) stimulates PEM-to-somatic embryo transition accompanied by programmed cell death (PCD) in PEMs. This PCD is mediated by a marked decrease in extracellular pH. If the acidification is abolished by buffering the culture medium, PEM-to-somatic embryo transition together with PCD is inhibited. Cell death, induced by withdrawal of PGRs, can be suppressed by extra supply of lipo-chitooligosaccharides (LCOs). Extracellular chitinases are probably involved in production and degradation of LCOs. During early embryogeny, the embryos form an embryonal mass surrounded by a surface layer. The formation of a surface layer is accompanied by a switch in the expression pattern of an Ltp-like gene (Pa18) and a homeobox gene (PaHB1), from ubiquitous expression in PEMs to surface layer-specific in somatic embryos. Ectopic expression of Pa18 and PaHB1 leads to an early developmental block. Transgenic embryos and plants of Norway spruce are routinely produced by using a biolistic approach. The transgenic material is used for studying the importance of specific genes for regulating plant development, but transgenic plants can also be used for identification of candidate genes for use in the breeding programme.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-329
Number of pages7
JournalPlant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2005


  • Conditioning factors
  • Development of somatic embryos
  • Embryogenic cell suspension
  • Gene transformation
  • Genetic regulation
  • Norway spruce
  • Programmed cell death

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Horticulture


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