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Development. 2010 Jan;137(2):179-89. doi: 10.1242/dev.030346.

Pattern formation in miniature: the female gametophyte of flowering plants.

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  • 1Department of Plant Biology, University of California, 1 Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA. sundar@ucdavis.edu


Plant reproduction involves gamete production by a haploid generation, the gametophyte. For flowering plants, a defining characteristic in the evolution from the 'naked-seed' plants, or gymnosperms, is a reduced female gametophyte, comprising just seven cells of four different types--a microcosm of pattern formation and gamete specification about which only little is known. However, several genes involved in the differentiation, fertilization and post-fertilization functions of the female gametophyte have been identified and, recently, the morphogenic activity of the plant hormone auxin has been found to mediate patterning and egg cell specification. This article reviews recent progress in understanding the pattern formation, maternal effects and evolution of this essential unit of plant reproduction.

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