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A genomics study of Pinus taeda somatic embryo germination Lane, Alexander


Loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) is one of the most prolific plantation forest tree species, and has significant ecological and economical importance. In order to maximize Pinus taeda plantation productivity, there has been extensive interest in developing an efficient vegetative reproduction system that could maximize production of elite performing trees, thereby minimizing the need for lengthy breeding cycles and dependence on traditional seed orchards. Somatic embryogenesis is one such propagation method that makes it possible to generate large numbers of genetically identical somatic embryos from a single zygotic seed. Though this technology is well established in research settings, the industrial application of this process has been limited due to low production efficiency. Germination of the somatic embryos has been one step in the process that appears to introduce a high degree of variability into the overall process. To better understand this variability a molecular level characterization of germinating somatic embryos was performed. By using cDNA microarray technology it was possible the plot the gene expression profiles of approximately 22000 genes across 3 time points and 4 growth medium treatments. Key primary and secondary biochemical pathways were observed to be induced while a large population of transcripts appears to be stored in the desiccated embryo prior to germination. The utility and challenges of cross-species microarray hybridizations are also discussed.

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