Regulation of developmental pathways in cultured microspores of tobacco and snapdragon by medium pH.
The regulation of developmental pathways in cultured microspores of tobacco ( Nicotiana tabacum L) and snapdragon ( Antirrhinum majus L) by medium pH is described for the first time. Unicellular tobacco and snapdragon microspores developed into normal, fertile pollen when cultured in media T1 and AT3 at pH 7.0 and 25 degrees C for 6 and 8 days, respectively. First, pollen mitosis was asymmetric and mature pollen grains were filled with starch granules and germinated upon transfer to a germination medium. However, when tobacco and snapdragon microspores were cultured in media T1 and AT3, respectively, at pH 8.0-8.5 for 4-6 days at 25 degrees C, the frequency of symmetric division increased significantly with the formation two nuclei of equal size, and the gametophytic pathway was blocked, as seen by the lack of starch accumulation and the inhibition of pollen germination. The transfer of these microspores to embryogenesis medium AT3 at pH 6.5 resulted in the formation of multicellular structures in both species and, in tobacco, in the formation of embryos and plants. In order to understand the possible mechanisms of the action of high pH, sucrose metabolism was analysed in isolated microspores of tobacco cultured at various pH values. Invertase (EC 184.108.40.206) activity in microspores was maximal at pH 5.0 and strongly decreased at higher pH, leading to a slow-down of sucrose cleavage. At the same time the incorporation of (14)C-labelled sucrose from the medium into microspores was drastically reduced at high pH. These data suggest that isolated microspores are not able to metabolise carbohydrates at high pH and thus undergo starvation stress, which was shown earlier to block the gametophytic pathway and trigger sporophytic development.