This first report of cellular and molecular changes after repetitive somatic embryogenesis in conifers shows that each cycle enhanced the structure and singularization of EMs through modulation of growth regulator pathways, thereby improving the line´s embryogenic status.
To explore poorly understood differences between primary and subsequent somatic embryogenic lines of plants, we induced secondary (2ry) and tertiary (3ry) lines from cotyledonary somatic embryos (SEs) of two Douglas-fir genotypes: SD4 and TD17. The 2ry lines exhibited significantly higher embryogenic potential (SE yields) than the 1ry lines initiated from zygotic embryos (SD4, 2155 vs 477; TD17, 240 vs 29 g− 1 f.w.). Moreover, we observed similar differences in yield between 2ry and 3ry lines of SD4 (2400 vs 3921 g− 1 f.w.). To elucidate reasons for differences in embryogenic potential induced by repetitive somatic embryogenesis we then compared 2ry vs 1ry and 2ry vs 3ry lines at histo-cytological (using LC-MS/MS) and proteomic levels.