Intensive exploitation of mahogany wood (Swietenia macrophylla, Meliaceae) has resulted in the loss of natural populations. Somatic embryogenesis offers an alternative to clonal propagation and conservation of mahogany. This study describes biochemical (carbohydrates, total phenols, total flavonoids, protein, and plant growth regulators content) and histological characteristics of the somatic embryogenesis process in mahogany. Calli were obtained by culturing cotyledons of seeds from immature fruits for six weeks on semi-solid MS medium supplemented with 1.0 mgL-1 of kinetin and 4.0 mgL-1 of 2, 4-D. Primary callus was cultured on half strength semi-solid MS medium supplemented with 1.0 mgl-1 6-BA (6-benzylaminopurine) and embryogenic structures were obtained. Embryo development from globular-shaped somatic embryos to the cotyledonary stage was confirmed by histology and scanning electron microscopy. Shoot initiation was observed after somatic embryos were transferred to germination and maturation medium. Endogenous concentrations of carbohydrates, total phenols, total flavonoids, protein, and plant growth regulators were determined in embryogenic (EC) and non-embryogenic (NEC) calli of mahogany. Embryogenic cultures contained significantly higher concentrations of IAA (indoleacetic acid), ABA (abscisic acid), and GAs (Gibberellins 1+3+20), whereas non-embryogenic calli contained more total phenols, flavonoids and resistant starch. Fructose and glucose were not present at detectable levels in EC or NEC, whereas soluble starch and sucrose were only detectable in EC. Concentrations of total proteins, Z/ZR (Zeatin/zeatin riboside) and iP/iPA (N6-(Δ2-isopentenyl) adenine and N6-(Δ2-isopentenyl) adenosine) were similar in EC and NEC.

Keywords: histological observations, embryogenic callus, non embryogenic callus, phenolics, flavonoids, carbohydrates, plant growth regulators