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J Exp Bot. 2000 Feb;51(343):167-75.

Maternal genotype influences pea seed size by controlling both mitotic activity during early embryogenesis and final endoreduplication level/cotyledon cell size in mature seed.

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INRA, Laboratoire de Recherche sur le M├ętabolisme et la Nutrition des Plantes, Versailles, France.


When reciprocal crosses are made between different pea genotypes, there is a strong maternal influence on mature seed size of the reciprocal hybrids, i.e. their dry weights are similar to that of seeds obtained from their maternal parents. Reciprocal crosses between pea varieties having very different mature seed sizes were used to investigate how the maternal genotype controls seed development and mature seed size. The differences in dry seed weight between genotypes and reciprocal hybrids reflected differences in both cotyledon cell number and mean cell volume, and the maternal control on the establishment of these two traits was investigated. Using flow cytometry, data relative to endoreduplication kinetics in cotyledons during the transition between the cell division phase and maturation were obtained. The appearance of nuclei having an 8C DNA content indicates the initiation of the endoreduplication phenomenon and thus the end of the cell division phase. It was shown that the duration of the cell division phase was the same in the reciprocal hybrids, its value being intermediate between those recorded for their maternal parents. This result indicates that the timing of development of the embryo is not under maternal control, but depends on its own genotype. Consequently, maternal genotype must influence the mitotic rate during the cell division phase to achieve differences in cell number found in the cotyledons of mature F1-reciprocal hybrids. The final level of endoreduplication in cotyledons of mature seeds was also investigated. This study showed that there is a close relationship (r2 = 0.919) between the endoreduplication level in mature cotyledons and seed dry weight or mean volume of cotyledon cells, suggesting that both maternal and non-maternal factors could control the number of endoreduplicating cycles in the cotyledons and, hypothetically, the cotyledon cell size.

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