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Trends Plant Sci. 2000 Feb;5(2):81-4.

Apomixis technology and the paradox of sex.

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Dept of Plant Population Biology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-CTO), PO Box 40, 6666 ZG Heteren, Netherlands.


Most plant species produce genetically variable seeds by the fusion of meiotically reduced egg cells and pollen grains. However, a small proportion of seed plants produces clonal, asexual seeds by the process of apomixis. The fixation of heterosis by apomixis is of great interest for plant breeding. The prospect of changing sexual crop species into apomictic crop species by genetic engineering--apomixis technology--has recently caused a boom in apomixis research. According to evolutionary biological theories, a dominant apomixis gene will rapidly become fixed in an outcrossing sexual population. Therefore, in theory, apomixis transgenes could have unconditional advantages that could result in the uncontrollable spread of the transgenes. By contrast, 'classic' transgenes might only have conditional advantages. Paradoxically, sexual reproduction and not apomixis is common in nature. However, this is no guarantee that apomixis transgenes will be ecologically safe because there could be essential differences between natural and transgenic apomicts.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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