An auxin surge following fertilization in carrots: A mechanism for regulating plant totipotency

David M. Ribnicky, Jerry D. Cohen, Wei Shou Hu, Todd J. Cooke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


All plants exhibit the property of cellular totipotency, whereby individual cells can regenerate into an entire organism. However little is known about the underlying mechanisms regulating totipotency. Using a preparative microtechnique, we report an 80-fold surge in the concentration of free auxin that is correlated with the initial stages of zygotic embryogenesis in carrots. The concentration of free IAA increases from a basal level of ca. 25 ng/g FW in unfertilized ovules to ca. 2,000 ng/g FW in the late globular and early heart stages, then back to the basal level in the torpedo stage. This initial increase in IAA levels is diagnostic of the activity of the tryptophan-mediated pathway for IAA biosynthesis, while the maintenance of the basal levels is attributed to the tryptophan-independent pathway for IAA biosynthesis. Our observations are consistent with the hypothesis that the sequential activation of alternative IAA biosynthetic pathways is a critical mechanism for regulating carrot (Daucus carota L. cv. Danvers 126) embryogenesis and other instances of plant totipotency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)505-509
Number of pages5
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements This work was supported in part by National Science Foundation grant DES-9321426 to W.-S.H. and T.J.C., Department of Energy grant DE-FG02-00ER15079 to J.D.C., by the Maryland and Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Stations and by the Gordon and Margaret Bailey Endowment for Environmental Horticulture. We thank Jay Schaffer (Al Christianson Seed Company), Henry Toohey and Robert Ribnicky for providing carrot taproots.


  • Daucus (totipotency)
  • Embryogenesis Indole-3-acetic acid (totipotency)
  • Phytohormone analysis
  • Reproduction (carrot)
  • Totipotency


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