Plant Reproduction

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 181-196

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Microspore embryogenesis: establishment of embryo identity and pattern in culture

  • Mercedes SorianoAffiliated withPlant Research International
  • , Hui LiAffiliated withPlant Research International
  • , Kim BoutilierAffiliated withPlant Research International Email author 


The developmental plasticity of plants is beautifully illustrated by the competence of the immature male gametophyte to change its developmental fate from pollen to embryo development when exposed to stress treatments in culture. This process, referred to as microspore embryogenesis, is widely exploited in plant breeding, but also provides a unique system to understand totipotency and early cell fate decisions. We summarize the major concepts that have arisen from decades of cell and molecular studies on microspore embryogenesis and put these in the context of recent experiments, as well as results obtained from the study of pollen and zygotic embryo development.


Microspore embryogenesis Male gametophyte Totipotency Embryo patterning