Somatic embryogenesis - stress-induced remodeling of plant cell fate

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

186 Citations (Scopus)


Plants as sessile organisms have remarkable developmental plasticity ensuring heir continuous adaptation to the environment. An extreme example is somatic embryogenesis, the initiation of autonomous embryo development in somatic cells in response to exogenous and/or endogenous signals. In this review I briefly overview the various pathways that can lead to embryo development in plants in addition to the fertilization of the egg cell and highlight the importance of the interaction of stress- and hormone-regulated pathways during the induction of somatic embryogenesis. Somatic embryogenesis can be initiated in planta or in vitro, directly or indirectly, and the requirement for dedifferentiation as well as the way to achieve developmental totipotency in the various systems is discussed in light of our present knowledge. The initiation of all forms of the stress/hormone-induced in vitro as well as the genetically provoked in planta somatic embryogenesis requires extensive and coordinated genetic reprogramming that has to take place at the chromatin level, as the embryogenic program is under strong epigenetic repression in vegetative plant cells. Our present knowledge on chromatin-based mechanisms potentially involved in the somatic-to-embryogenic developmental transition is summarized emphasizing the potential role of the chromatin to integrate stress, hormonal, and developmental pathways leading to the activation of the embryogenic program. The role of stress-related chromatin reorganization in the genetic instability of in vitro cultures is also discussed. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Stress as a fundamental theme in cell plasticity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-402
Number of pages18
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Gene Regulatory Mechanisms
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2015


  • Dedifferentiation
  • DNA methylation
  • Genetic stability
  • Histone modification
  • Plant regeneration
  • Totipotency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Somatic embryogenesis - stress-induced remodeling of plant cell fate'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this