Embryology of Angiosperms

pp 377-443

The Embryo

  • S. Natesh
  • , M. A. Rau

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The discovery of syngamy by Strasburger in 1884 is an important landmark in the history of angiosperm embryology. Investigations on the embryo, however, had been initiated much before this event, soon after the observation of the pollen tube by Amici in 1824. Amici contended that the embryo developed from the germinal vesicle present in the embryo sac, and the pollen tube merely provided some kind of stimulus for its development. This view was strongly challenged by Schleiden (1836), who argued that the tip of the pollen tube itself, once inside the embryo sac, got transformed into an embryo. The subject soon developed into a major controversy and several botanists joined the fray, arraying themselves into two groups, some endorsing Amici’s contention, and others defending Schleiden’s opinion. The controversy raged for nearly two decades and it was not until Hofmeister conclusively demonstrated, in a series of publications from 1847 to 1861, that the embryo originated from a cell present in the embryo sac prior to the arrival of the pollen tube, thus vindicating Amici’s view, that the controversy came to an end [see Maheshwari (1950, 1963) for references].