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Research Articles (Research Centre for Plant Growth and Development)

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    Cadmium induces hypodermal periderm formation in the roots of the monocotyledonous medicinal plant Merwilla plumbea.
    (Annals of Botany Company., 2010) Lux, Alexander.; Vaculık, Marek.; Martinka, Michal.; Liskova, Desana.; Kulkarni, Manoj G.; Stirk, Wendy Ann.; Van Staden, Johannes.
    Background and Aims. Merwilla plumbea is an important African medicinal plant. As the plants grow in soils contaminated with metals from mining activities, the danger of human intoxication exists. An experiment with plants exposed to cadmium (Cd) was performed to investigate the response of M. plumbea to this heavy metal, its uptake and translocation to plant organs and reaction of root tissues. Methods. Plants grown from seeds were cultivated in controlled conditions. Hydroponic cultivation is not suitable for this species as roots do not tolerate aquatic conditions, and additional stress by Cd treatment results in total root growth inhibition and death. After cultivation in perlite the plants exposed to 1 and 5 mg Cd L-1 in half-strength Hoagland’s solution were compared with control plants. Growth parameters were evaluated, Cd content was determined by inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy (ICP-MS) and root structure was investigated using various staining procedures, including the fluorescent stain Fluorol yellow 088 to detect suberin deposition in cell walls. Key Results. The plants exposed to Cd were significantly reduced in growth. Most of the Cd taken up by plants after 4 weeks cultivation was retained in roots, and only a small amount was translocated to bulbs and leaves. In reaction to higher Cd concentrations, roots developed a hypodermal periderm close to the root tip. Cells produced by cork cambium impregnate their cell walls by suberin. Conclusions. It is suggested that the hypodermal periderm is developed in young root parts in reaction to Cd toxicity to protect the root from radial uptake of Cd ions. Secondary meristems are usually not present in monocotyledonous species. Another interpretation explaining formation of protective suberized layers as a result of periclinal divisions of the hypodermis is discussed. This process may represent an as yet unknown defence reaction of roots when exposed to elemental stress.
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    Effect of nutrients and smoke solutions on seed germination and seedling growth of Tropical Soda Apple (Solanum viarum).
    (Weed Science Society of America., 2011) Kandari, Laxman S.; Kulkarni, Manoj G.; Van Staden, Johannes.
    Solanum viarum, commonly known as tropical soda apple (TSA), is native to Brazil and Argentina but has become a harmful weed in many countries with tropical climates. This study was conducted to reassess the seed biology of TSA found in South Africa. Cold stratification (14 d), acid scarification (20% H2SO4 for 5 min), and sandpaper scarification (30 s) significantly improved percentage germination when compared to the control. The highest germination (99.5%) was achieved when seeds were germinated in 50% Hoagland’s nutrient solution (HS). The lowest germination (66%) was recorded in the absence of phosphorus (P) under alternating light conditions. HS without nitrogen (N) completely inhibited seed germination of TSA under constant light conditions. These findings are useful in controlling TSA by amending the levels of N and P in soils. Seed germination of TSA was significantly enhanced by different concentrations of smoke-water and butenolide solution. Smoke-water dilution of 1:500 v/v and butenolide concentration of 10 -8M showed the highest seedling vigor indices (6,688 and 6,666, respectively) in comparison to the control (1,251) and gibberellic acid (GA3) concentrations (< 5,327). These findings suggest that germination of seeds or seedbanks of TSA might be successfully stimulated using smoke solutions. Subsequently, patches of seedlings emerging after treatment can be mechanically uprooted to reduce the infestation of TSA. However, justifying this with field trials is essential.