The production of ethylene by plant tissues and its effect on four basic plant processes



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The production of ethylene has been studied In four plants: banana fruit, tomato plants, lettuce seeds, and tobacco pith cultures. The mechanisms Involved In this ethylene production were studied using Inhibitory heat treatments. It was determined that there were at least three and possibly more mechanisms of ethylene synthesis. These mechanisms Include an endogenous production, an auxin- or ethylene- stimulated system, and a heat-stimulated ethylene synthesis. One of these mechanisms, the auxin- or ethylene-stimulated, was found to be heat labile. These findings were found to be significant In relation to the proposed biosynthetic pathways for ethylene synthesis. Ethylene production was found to have a fundamental effect on four basic plant processes: ripening, epinasty, germination, and respiration. The presence of ethylene was found to be necessary for fruit to ripen, for epinasty to occur, and for seeds to germinate. Auxin Involved In these responses and others reviewed In the literature was found to be active only In the presence of ethylene synthesis. The results of these studies are discussed In detail and several hypotheses are made concerning the mechanism of action of ethylene.