Cloning and characterization of Somatic Embryogenesis Receptor Kinase I (EgSERK I) and its association with callus initiation in oil palm

  • Fong-Chin Lee
  • Meilina Ong-Abdullah
  • Siew-Eng Ooi
  • Chai-Ling Ho
  • Parameswari NamasivayamEmail author
Embryogenesis/Somatic Embryogenesis


The somatic embryogenesis receptor kinase (SERK) gene has been extensively studied in many plant species due to its role in conferring embryogenic competence to somatic cells. The oil palm (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.) full-length SERK I (EgSERK I) cDNA was first isolated from cell suspension culture using RACE-PCR. Total length of EgSERK I cDNA was 2378 bp in length with a 5’UTR region (358 bp) longer than 3’UTR region (130 bp) and the ORF was 1890 bp (629aa). The deduced amino acid sequence of EgSERK I contained protein domains commonly present in reported SERK proteins, including the hallmark proline-rich region and C-terminal domains. EgSERK I was most highly expressed in leaf explants and also detected in all tested tissues, including vegetative tissues, reproductive tissues, embryogenic tissues, and non-embryogenic tissues, suggesting that it may have a broad role in plant growth and development. Expression of EgSERK I in leaf explant was upregulated by minimal auxin concentration at the initial 6 h of incubation in callus induction media. EgSERK I mRNA was detected in the adjacent cells of the vascular tissues in the midvein region of leaf explants which serves as the callus initiation point of callogenesis in oil palm. Collectively, our findings suggest that the EgSERK I gene is involved in the callus initiation stage of oil palm somatic embryogenesis by transducing the signal to switch on the dedifferentiation process, triggering cellular reprogramming to form callus.


Auxin Callus induction Somatic embryogenesis Embryogenic competence LRR-RLK protein 



This work was funded by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB). The authors thank the MPOB for providing tissue culture materials and to Dr. Yeap Wan Chin for her constructive suggestions and support.

Authors’ contribution

FCL, MOA, CLH, and PN designed and planned the experiments in this study. FCL carried out the experiments and wrote the manuscript. FCL and SEO developed the modified RNA in situ hybridization method. All authors discussed and were involved in results interpretation. All authors contributed to drafting and improving of the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© The Society for In Vitro Biology 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fong-Chin Lee
    • 1
  • Meilina Ong-Abdullah
    • 2
  • Siew-Eng Ooi
    • 2
  • Chai-Ling Ho
    • 3
    • 4
  • Parameswari Namasivayam
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Sime Darby Technology Centre Sdn BhdSerdangMalaysia
  2. 2.Advanced Biotechnology and Breeding CentreMalaysian Palm Oil BoardKajangMalaysia
  3. 3.Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Biotechnology and Biomolecular SciencesUniversiti Putra MalaysiaUPM SerdangMalaysia
  4. 4.Institute of Plantation StudiesUniversiti Putra MalaysiaUPM SerdangMalaysia

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