, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 32-42

Development of endosperm in Arabidopsis thaliana

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 The process of endosperm development in Arabidopsis was studied using immunohistochemistry of tubulin/microtubules coupled with light and confocal laser scanning microscopy. Arabidopsis undergoes the nuclear type of development in which the primary endosperm nucleus resulting from double fertilization divides repeatedly without cytokinesis resulting in a syncytium lining the central cell. Development occurs as waves originating in the micropylar chamber and moving through the central chamber toward the chalazal tip. Prior to cellularization, the syncytium is organized into nuclear cytoplasmic domains (NCDs) defined by nuclear-based radial systems of microtubules. The NCDs become polarized in axes perpendicular to the central cell wall, and anticlinal walls deposited among adjacent NCDs compartmentalize the syncytium into open-ended alveoli overtopped by a crown of syncytial cytoplasm. Continued centripetal growth of the anticlinal walls is guided by adventitious phragmoplasts that form at interfaces of microtubules emanating from adjacent interphase nuclei. Polarity of the elongating alveoli is reflected in a subsequent wave of periclinal divisions that cuts off a peripheral layer of cells and displaces the alveoli centripetally into the central vacuole. This pattern of development via alveolation appears to be highly conserved; it is characteristic of nuclear endosperm development in angiosperms and is similar to ancient patterns of gametophyte development in gymnosperms.

Received: 21 September 1998 / Revision accepted: 17 November 1998