Mechanism and Function of Endosperm Cellularization
Seed development in flowering plants is initiated by double fertilization of two female gametes by two sperm cells; fertilization of the haploid egg cell will generate the diploid embryo, while fertilization of the diploid central cell will generate the triploid endosperm. The endosperm serves to nourish and support the embryo by delivering nutrients acquired from the mother plant. Endosperm development is a complex process; in most flowering plant species free nuclear proliferation without cytokinesis (syncytial phase) is followed by a cellularization phase that is initiated in a region surrounding the embryo and then proceeds from the outer to the inner region of the endosperm. In Arabidopsis, endosperm cellularization coincides with the early heart stage of embryo development. Endosperm cellularization failure results in embryo arrest and seed abortion, a phenomenon frequently occurring in response to interploidy and interspecies hybridizations. Why endosperm cellularization is essential for embryo survival is still mysterious; our research aims at solving this question.
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