Plant Molecular Biology

, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 267–281 | Cite as

Programmed cell death in plant reproduction

  • Hen-ming Wu
  • Alice Y. Cheung


Reproductive development is a rich arena to showcase programmed cell death in plants. After floral induction, the first act of reproductive development in some plants is the selective killing of cells destined to differentiate into an unwanted sexual organ. Production of functional pollen grains relies significantly on deterioration and death of the anther tapetum, a tissue whose main function appears to nurture and decorate the pollen grains with critical surface molecules. Degeneration and death in a number of anther tissues result ultimately in anther rupture and dispersal of pollen grains. Female sporogenesis frequently begins with the death of all but one of the meiotic derivatives, with surrounding nucellar cells degenerating in concert with embryo sac expansion. Female tissues that interact with pollen undergo dramatic degeneration, including death, to ensure the encounter of compatible male and female gametes. Pollen and pistil interact to kill invading pollen from an incompatible source. Most observations on cell death in reproductive tissues have been on the histological and cytological levels. We discuss various cell death phenomena in reproductive development with a view towards understanding the biochemical and molecular mechanisms that underlie these processes.

fertilization male sterility pollination sex determination tapetum 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hen-ming Wu
    • 1
  • Alice Y. Cheung
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry and Molecular BiologyUSA

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