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Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2007 Dec;10(6):633-8. Epub 2007 Sep 11.

How females become complex: cell differentiation in the gametophyte.

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ZMBP Developmental Genetics, University of Tübingen, D-72076 Tübingen, Germany.


In contrast to animals, gametes in plants form a separate haploid generation, the gametophyte. The female gametophyte of flowering plants consists of just four different cell types that play distinct roles in the reproductive process. Differentiation of the distinct cell fates is tightly controlled and appears to follow regional cues that are arranged along a polar axis. Mutant analysis suggests that important aspects of gametophyte patterning are gametophytically regulated. Additionally, structural and molecular changes following misspecification indicate that the female gametophyte is a remarkably versatile structure with enormous respecification potential. Recently, new tools have been developed that open fascinating possibilities to access and analyze those processes that ultimately ensure successful fertilization.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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