Storage organ induction in vitro can limit the loss of plants during acclimatisation, and can substantially reduce the time to flower following acclimatisation. An initial experiment lasting 3 months showed that of the four Watsonia species investigated, only Watsonia vanderspuyiae was capable of consistent corm formation. Consequently, a second study investigating light, temperature (10, 15, 20 and 25°C), carbohydrates (sucrose at 3, 6, 9 or 12%) and plant growth regulators [α-naphthalene acetic acid (NAA), N 6-benzylaminopurine (BA), abscisic acid (ABA), gibberellic acid 3 (GA3), paclobutrazol (PAC) and methyl jasmonate (MeJa)], lasting 6 months, was performed. Abnormal corms were produced by W. lepida in response to ABA, but normal corms formed at lower temperatures (10 and 20°C). In contrast, corms were produced in most treatments of W. vanderspuyiae, with BA, PAC and ABA being the only treatments that inhibited corm induction. By examining the product of the proportion corm induction multiplied by corm mass, four treatments superior to the control (20°C, 1 mg l-1 GA 3, 6% sucrose and continuous light) were selected for a factorial design experiment in W. vanderspuyiae. After 3 months, treatments were ranked according to their product. The best four combinations of these four factors all contained GA3 and were incubated at 20°C, suggesting synergistic interactions between gibberellins and reduced temperature.
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Acknowledgements We are grateful to the National Research Foundation, Pretoria, and the University of Minnesota Agriculture Experiment Station and the Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Foundation for generous financial assistance.