, Volume 169, Issue 1, pp 87–96 | Cite as

The carotenoid and abscisic acid content of viviparous kernels and seedlings ofZea mays L.

  • S. J. Neill
  • R. Horgan
  • A. D. Parry


Carotenoid and abscisic acid (ABA) levels were determined in endosperm, embryos and seedlings of wild-type and viviparous (vp) mutants ofZea mays L. Carotenoid concentrations were determined by absorption spectrometry following purification by high-performance liquid chromatography and ABA concentrations by combined gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Lutein and zeaxanthin were the terminal carotenoids in wild-type tissue. The carotenoid profiles ofvp-1 andvp-8 tissue were similar to that of the wild type; invp-2, vp-5, vp-7 andvp-9 carotenogenesis was blocked at early stages so that xanthophylls were absent. Except forvp-1, where the ABA content was similar to the wild type, the ABA content ofvp embryos was substantially reduced, to 6–16% of the corresponding wild type. Thus, the absence of xanthophylls was associated with reduced ABA content, which was in turn correlated with vivipary. Kernels ofvp-8 had a reduced ABA content although xanthophylls were present. Seedlings of carotenoid-deficient mutants rescued from viviparous kernels contained less ABA than did wild-type seedlings grown in the same way. Furthermore, the ABA concentration of such seedlings did not increase in response to water deficit. Conversely,vp-1 seedlings contained normal levels of carotenoids and ABA. Carotenoid-deficient seedlings did not contain appreciable amounts of chlorophyll so that chloroplast development was not normal. Thus ABA-deficiency could be associated with abnormal plastid development rather than the absence of carotenoids per se.

Key words

Abscisic acid (biosynthesis) Carotenoid Embryo development Mutant (ZeaVivipary Zea 



abscisic acid


days after pollination


internal diameter


fresh weight


combined gas chromatography-mass spectrometry


high-performance liquid chromatography


mass spectrometry




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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. J. Neill
    • 1
  • R. Horgan
    • 1
  • A. D. Parry
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Botany and MicrobiologyUniversity College of WalesAberystwythUK

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