With some lines of oil-palm tissue cultures embryogenesis occurs spontaneously within the callus grown on a medium containing 2.5 mg of 3-naphthylacetic acid/litre. One of the initial biochemical events that occurs just before the embryoid can be seen is the accumulation of fat droplets within the cells. This accumulation of lipid is correlated with an increase in acetyl-CoA carboxylase activity. The carboxylase is thus probably a rate-limiting step in fatty acid synthesis in these cells and can be used as a quantitative marker of somatic embryogenesis within the tissue. During the development of the embryoid tissue there is an increase in cell division and the differentiation of vascular cells with secondary thickened walls. These stages of the differentiation may be monitored by measuring the ratio of pectin synthesis (polygalacturonic acid formation) to hemicellulose synthesis (xylan formation).

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