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R50 (sym16), a pleiotropic mutant of Pisum sativum L., is short, has thickened internodes and roots, and has a reduced number of lateral roots and nodules. Its low nodule phenotype can be restored with the application of ethylene inhibitors; furthermore, it can be mimicked by applying cytokinins (CKs) to the roots of the parent line #8216;Sparkle’. Here, we report on the etiolation phenotypes of R50 and ‘Sparkle’, and on the interactive roles of ethylene and CKs in these lines. R50 displayed an altered etiolation phenotype, as it was shorter and thicker, and had more developed leaves than dark-grown ‘Sparkle’. Shoot morphological differences induced by exogenous ethylene or CKs were found to be less severe for R50. Ethylene inhibitor application induced root and shoot elongation and encouraged apical hook opening in both etiolated lines. Liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry analysis indicated that CK concentrations in R50 were higher than in ‘Sparkle’, particularly in mature shoots where the levels were maintained at elevated concentrations. These differences indicate a reduction in the CK catabolism of R50. The accumulation of CKs can be directly related to several traits of R50, with the reduced number of nodules and altered shoot ethylene response being likely indirect effects.


This article was originally published in Canadian Journal of Botany, 83(8): 989-1000. © 2005 National Research Council. Reproduced with permission