Journal of Plant Research

, Volume 106, Issue 1, pp 55–63 | Cite as

Development of male gametes in flowering plants

  • Ichiro Tanaka


The male gametes of angiosperms consist of two sperm cells within a pollen grain or a pollen tube. They are derived from a single generative cell, which is formed as the smaller cell by unequal cell division in the microspore after meiosis. Limited information is available about these male gametic cells, beyond observations by electron microscopy, because each is surrounded by the cytoplasm of a larger vegetative cell. Recently, large quantities of generative cells and sperm cells have been isolated from pollen grains or pollen tubes of various plant species, and their physiological, biochemical and molecular characterization is now possible. Although almost all the available results are still preliminary, it is evident that the male gametic cells are peculiar in terms both of cell structure and composition. For example, they are rich in axial microtubules which maintain the spindle-like shape of each cell. However, they lack plastids which are DNA-containing cytoplasmic organelles. Biochemical characterization of their proteins indicates the presence of male gamete-specific polypeptides. These findings suggest, not unexpectedly, the possibility of male gamete-specific gene expression and of a strict genetic mechanism that controls the formation of male gametes.

Key words

Generative cell Maternal inheritance Microtubule Pollen development Sperm cell Unequal cell division 


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Copyright information

© The Botanical Society of Japan 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ichiro Tanaka
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyYokohama City UniversityYokohamaJapan

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