The photosynthetic and carbohydrate status of an easy-to-acclimatize (EK 16-3) and a difficult-to-acclimatize (EK 11-1) genotype of Uniola paniculata L. (sea oats), a native dune species of the southeastern US, were evaluated during in vitro culture and ex vitro acclimatization. Net photosynthetic rate was eight times greater for EK 16-3 than EK 11-1 plantlets after ex vitro transfer. In vitro-produced leaves were morphologically similar to ex vitro-produced leaves and exhibited similar photosynthetic competence. EK 11-1 plantlets exhibited greater transpiration rates at the time of ex vitro transfer than EK 16-3 plantlets. However, the small magnitude of this difference, although significant, indicated that control of water loss was probably not the main cause for poor acclimatization of EK 11-1 plantlets. Carbohydrate analysis in vitro revealed that EK 16-3 plantlets utilized leaf starch reserves more rapidly than EK 11-1 plantlets. Starch utilization correlated with the development of leaves with expanded leaf blades during in vitro rooting in EK 16-3 plantlets. After ex vitro transfer, both genotypes exhibited significant decreases of starch and soluble sugar content in shoots and roots. However, the higher photosynthetic ability of shoots in EK 16-3 resulted in greater accumulation of shoot soluble sugars than EK 11-1 after 2-wk ex vitro culture. After 6-wk in vitro rooting, there were significantly higher chlorophyll and soluble protein contents, ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase (rubisco) and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase activities in EK 16-3 than EK 11-1 shoots. These differences also correlated with the development of anatomical and morphological leaf features in EK 16-3 similar to those of greenhouse-produced leaves.
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Vol. 42 • No. 6