, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 197-204

Ultrastructural characterization of apospory in Panicum maximum

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Abstract

The nucellar ultrastructure of apomictic Panicum maximum was analyzed during the meiocytic stage and during aposporous embryo sac formation. At pachytene the megameiocyte shows a random cell organelle distribution and sometimes only an incomplete micropylar callose wall. The chalazal nucellar cells are meristematic until the tetrad stage. They can turn into initial cells of aposporous embryo sacs. The aposporous initials can be recognized by their increased cell size, large nucleus, and the presence of many vesicles. The cell wall is thin with few plasmodesmata. If only a sexual embryo sac is formed, the nucellar cells retain their meristematic character. The aposporous initial cell is somewhat comparable to a vacuolated functional megaspore. It shows large vacuoles around the central nucleus and is surrounded by a thick cell wall without plasmodesmata. In the mature aposporous embryo sac the structure of the cells of the egg apparatus is similar to each other. In the chalazal part of the egg apparatus the cell walls are thin and do not hamper the transfer of sperm cells. Structural and functional aspects of nucellar cell differentiation and aposporous and sexual embryo sac development are discussed.