Morphological Features of Mistletoe Callus Cultures Formation of Somatic Embryos

Apart from the aforementioned distinction between "black" and "white" callus forms, mistletoe tissue cultures exhibit some unique morphological structures. Yellowish filamentous protrusions, covering the callus tissues like a mould have been frequently observed (Fig. 1B). They sometimes originated from small, black seed-like structures (Fig. 1A). The function of these protrusions is unknown, but they could possibly be related to haustoria. Finally, somatic embryos at the globular stage were observed on calli cultured for over four weeks on an ascorbic acid-containing medium (Fig. 1C). Somatic embryogenesis is the process of embryo formation from somatic (sporophytic) tissues and comprises a number of distinct stages, i.e. the formation of globular embryos (proembryos), the further development to the heart-shaped stage, to the torpedo stage and finally to the cotyledonary stage (Torres, 1989). As the formation of secondary metabolites in intact plants depends on a well-defined tissue specialisation, it is possible that mistletoe somatic embryos, which exhibit a high level of tissue differentiation, could accumulate various substances of pharmaceutical importance at a satisfactory rate.

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