In our laboratory we use cultured chicory (Cichorium intybus) explants as a model to investigate cell reactivation and somatic embryogenesis and have produced 2 chicory genotypes (K59, C15) sharing a similar genetic background. K59 is a responsive genotype (embryogenic) capable of undergoing complete cell reactivation i.e. cell de- and re-differentiation leading to somatic embryogenesis (SE), whereas C15 is a non-responsive genotype (non-embryogenic) and is unable to undergo SE. Previous studies  showed that the use of the β-D-glucosyl Yariv reagent (β-GlcY) that specifically binds arabinogalactan-proteins (AGPs) blocked somatic embryo production in chicory root explants. This observation indicates that β-GlcY is a useful tool for investigating somatic embryogenesis (SE) in chicory. In addition, a putative AGP (DT212818) encoding gene was previously found to be significantly up-regulated in the embryogenic K59 chicory genotype as compared to the non-embryogenic C15 genotype suggesting that this AGP could be involved in chicory re-differentiation . In order to improve our understanding of the molecular and cellular regulation underlying SE in chicory, we undertook a detailed cytological study of cell reactivation events in K59 and C15 genotypes, and used microarray profiling to compare gene expression in these 2 genotypes. In addition we also used β-GlcY to block SE in order to identify genes potentially involved in this process.
Microscopy confirmed that only the K59, but not the C15 genotype underwent complete cell reactivation leading to SE formation. β-GlcY-treatment of explants blocked in vitro SE induction, but not cell reactivation, and induced cell wall modifications. Microarray analyses revealed that 78 genes were differentially expressed between induced K59 and C15 genotypes. The expression profiles of 19 genes were modified by β-GlcY-treatment. Eight genes were both differentially expressed between K59 and C15 genotypes during SE induction and transcriptionally affected by β-GlcY-treatment: AGP (DT212818), 26 S proteasome AAA ATPase subunit 6 (RPT6), remorin (REM), metallothionein-1 (MT1), two non-specific lipid transfer proteins genes (SDI-9 and DEA1), 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase (HMG-CoA reductase), and snakin 2 (SN2). These results suggest that the 8 genes, including the previously-identified AGP gene (DT212818), could be involved in cell fate determination events leading to SE commitment in chicory.
The use of two different chicory genotypes differing in their responsiveness to SE induction, together with β-GlcY-treatment represented an efficient tool to discriminate cell reactivation from the SE morphogenetic pathway. Such an approach, together with microarray analyses, permitted us to identify several putative key genes related to the SE morphogenetic pathway in chicory.