Adventitious root formation (ARF) in the model plant Petunia hybrida cv. Mitchell has been analysed in terms of anatomy, gene expression, enzymatic activities and levels of metabolites. This study focuses on the involvement of wound response and primary metabolism. Microscopic techniques were complemented with targeted transcript, enzyme and metabolite profiling using real time polymerase chain reaction (PCR), Northern blot, enzymatic assays, chromatography and mass spectrometry. Three days after severance from the stock plants, first meristematic cells appeared which further developed into root primordia and finally adventitious roots. Excision of cuttings led to a fast and transient increase in the wound-hormone jasmonic acid, followed by the expression of jasmonate-regulated genes such as cell wall invertase. Analysis of soluble and insoluble carbohydrates showed a continuous accumulation during ARF. A broad metabolite profiling revealed a strong increase in organic acids and resynthesis of essential amino acids. Substantial changes in enzyme activities and metabolite levels indicate that specific enzymes and metabolites might play a crucial role during ARF. Three metabolic phases could be defined: (i) sink establishment phase characterized by apoplastic unloading of sucrose and being probably mediated by jasmonates; (ii) recovery phase; and (iii) maintenance phase, in which a symplastic unloading occurs.
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