Background: The plant cell walls play an important role in somatic embryogenesis and plant development. Pectins are major chemical components of primary cell walls while homogalacturonan (HG) is the most abundant pectin polysaccharide. Developmental regulation of HG methyl-esterification degree is important for cell adhesion, division and expansion, and in general for proper organ and plant development.
Methodology/principal findings: Developmental localization of pectic homogalacturonan (HG) epitopes and the (1→4)-β-D-galactan epitope of rhamnogalacturonan I (RG-I) and degree of pectin methyl-esterification (DM) were studied during somatic embryogenesis of banana (Musa spp. AAA). Histological analysis documented all major developmental stages including embryogenic cells (ECs), pre-globular, globular, pear-shaped and cotyledonary somatic embryos. Histochemical staining of extracellularly secreted pectins with ruthenium red showed the most intense staining at the surface of pre-globular, globular and pear-shaped somatic embryos. Biochemical analysis revealed developmental regulation of galacturonic acid content and DM in diverse embryogenic stages. Immunodots and immunolabeling on tissue sections revealed developmental regulation of highly methyl-esterified HG epitopes recognized by JIM7 and LM20 antibodies during somatic embryogenesis. Cell walls of pre-globular/globular and late-stage embryos contained both low methyl-esterified HG epitopes as well as partially and highly methyl-esterified ones. Extracellular matrix which covered surface of early developing embryos contained pectin epitopes recognized by 2F4, LM18, JIM5, JIM7 and LM5 antibodies. De-esterification of cell wall pectins by NaOH caused a decrease or an elimination of immunolabeling in the case of highly methyl-esterified HG epitopes. However, immunolabeling of some low methyl-esterified epitopes appeared stronger after this base treatment.
Conclusions/significance: These data suggest that both low- and highly-methyl-esterified HG epitopes are developmentally regulated in diverse embryogenic stages during somatic embryogenesis. This study provides new information about pectin composition, HG methyl-esterification and developmental localization of pectin epitopes during somatic embryogenesis of banana.