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J Exp Bot. 2009;60(5):1465-78. doi: 10.1093/jxb/ern355. Epub 2009 Feb 12.

Male gametophyte development: a molecular perspective.

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Department of Biology, University of Leicester, UK.


Pollen grains represent the highly reduced haploid male gametophyte generation in flowering plants, consisting of just two or three cells when released from the anthers. Their role is to deliver twin sperm cells to the embryo sac to undergo fusion with the egg and central cell. This double fertilization event along with the functional specialization of the male gametophyte, are considered to be key innovations in the evolutionary success of flowering plants. This review encompasses important recent advances in our understanding of the molecular mechanisms controlling male gametophyte development. A brief overview of pollen development is presented, followed by a discussion of genome-wide transcriptomic studies of haploid gene expression. The progress achieved through genetic analysis of landmark events of male gametogenesis is discussed, with a focus on sperm cell production, and an emerging model of the regulatory network governing male germline development is presented. The review concludes with a perspective of the impact these data will have on future research strategies to further develop our understanding of the gametophytic control of pollen development.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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