, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 143-158,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 14 Jul 2013

Control of the meiotic cell division program in plants

Abstract

While the question of why organisms reproduce sexually is still a matter of controversy, it is clear that the foundation of sexual reproduction is the formation of gametes with half the genomic DNA content of a somatic cell. This reduction in genomic content is accomplished through meiosis that, in contrast to mitosis, comprises two subsequent chromosome segregation steps without an intervening S phase. In addition, meiosis generates new allele combinations through the compilation of new sets of homologous chromosomes and the reciprocal exchange of chromatid segments between homologues. Progression through meiosis relies on many of the same, or at least homologous, cell cycle regulators that act in mitosis, e.g., cyclin-dependent kinases and the anaphase-promoting complex/cyclosome. However, these mitotic control factors are often differentially regulated in meiosis. In addition, several meiosis-specific cell cycle genes have been identified. We here review the increasing knowledge on meiotic cell cycle control in plants. Interestingly, plants appear to have relaxed cell cycle checkpoints in meiosis in comparison with animals and yeast and many cell cycle mutants are viable. This makes plants powerful models to study meiotic progression and allows unique modifications to their meiotic program to develop new plant-breeding strategies.

Communicated by T. Dresselhaus.
A contribution to the Special Issue “HAPRECI—Plant Reproduction Research in Europe”.