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Mannanase production by the lettuce endosperm

Control by the embryo

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Endo-β-mannanase (EC is produced and secreted by the cells of the endosperm of lettuce (lactuca sativa L.) “seeds” (achenes). In imbibed intact seeds, production is prevented by inhibitors. If the endosperm is incubated alone, these inhibitors can be removed by leaching, allowing mannanase production. Abscisic acid, a component of lettuce seeds, inhibits the production of mannanase in the isolated endosperm, and may be involved in regulation of mannanase production in intact seeds. During germination the inhibition is removed, beginning 4–8 h after red-light irradiation, which was given 4 h from sowing. The cotyledons participate in this process, and are controlled by events occuring in the axis within 4 h from red-light irradiation. This control by the axis apparently depends on the exchange of diffusible substances. Both benzyladenine and gibberellic acid can replace the influence of the axis if the latter is removed, and may therefore be involved in the control by the axis of the rest of the seed.

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abscisic acid



GA3 :

gibberellic acid


indol-3-yl acetic acid


2-(N-morpholino)ethane sulfonic acid


red light


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Part of this work was carried out by P. Halmer at the Department of Biology, Washington University, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA (his present address)

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Halmer, P., Bewley, J.D. Mannanase production by the lettuce endosperm. Planta 144, 333–340 (1979).

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Key words

  • Abscisic acid
  • Endosperm
  • Germination (seeds)
  • Lactuca
  • Mannanase