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Title: Treatment of plants with gaseous ethylene and gaseous inhibitors of ethylene action

item Tucker, Mark
item KIM, JOONYUP - University Of Maryland
item WEN, CHI-KUANG - Shanghai Institutes For Biological Sciences

Submitted to: Methods in Molecular Biology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/14/2016
Publication Date: 3/21/2017
Citation: Tucker, M.L., Kim, J., Wen, C. 2017. Treatment of plants with gaseous ethylene and gaseous inhibitors of ethylene action. Methods in Molecular Biology. 1573:27-39. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-6854-1_3.

Interpretive Summary: Ethylene is a plant hormone that regulates many aspects of plant growth and development, germination, fruit ripening, senescence (aging), sex determination, abscission (organ separation), defense, gravitropism (bending towards or away from gravity), epinasty (bending of leaves), and more. For experimental purposes, one needs to treat plant material with ethylene and its inhibitors to determine the precise role of ethylene in any particular stage of plant development. For short-term treatments, ethylene and its inhibitors can be applied in a closed system when accumulation of carbon dioxide and other volatiles and decline of oxygen has a marginal effect. For longer treatments, accumulation of gases and depletion of oxygen can markedly change the response to ethylene. For this purpose, a flow-through (open) system is required. Methods for both a closed and open system are presented and discussed. Both scientists and industrial partners will benefit from a clear and simple description of how to treat plants and plant tissues with ethylene.

Technical Abstract: Ethylene is an interesting plant hormone to work with. It’s a gas! Literally. And this affects not only its role in plant biology but also how you treat plants with the hormone. In many ways, it simplifies the treatment problem. Other hormones have to be made up in solution and applied to some part of the plant hoping the hormone will be taken up into the plant and translocated throughout the plant at the desired concentration. Because all plant cells are connected by an intercellular gas space the ethylene concentration you treat with is relative quickly reached throughout the plant. In some instances, like mature fruit, treatment with ethylene initiates autocatalytic synthesis of ethylene. In these instances, the concentration of ethylene at the cell surface can be higher than your treatment. No matter, in most experiments we treat with a saturating concentration of ethylene, usually >1 µL/L, and the synthesis of additional ethylene is inconsequential. Also very nice about ethylene research compared to other hormones is that there are inhibitors of ethylene action 1-MCP (1-methylcyclopropene) and 2,5-NBD (2,5-norbornadiene) that are also gases wherein you can achieve nearly 100% inhibition of ethylene action quickly and with few side effects. Inhibitors for other plant hormones are applied as a solution and their transport and concentration at the desired site is not always known and difficult to measure. Here, our focus is on how to treat plants and plant parts with the ethylene gas and the gaseous inhibitors of ethylene action.