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Mol Ecol. 2016 Jun;25(11):2620-9. doi: 10.1111/mec.13552. Epub 2016 Mar 9.

Endosperm-based postzygotic hybridization barriers: developmental mechanisms and evolutionary drivers.

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Department of Plant Biology, Uppsala BioCenter, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Linnean Center for Plant Biology, 750 07, Uppsala, Sweden.


The endosperm is a nourishing tissue that serves to support embryo growth. Failure of endosperm development will ultimately cause embryo arrest and seed lethality, a phenomenon that is frequently observed upon hybridization of related plant species or species that differ in ploidy. Endosperm-based interspecies or interploidy hybridization barriers depend on the direction of the hybridization, causing nonreciprocal seed defects. This reveals that the parental genomes are not equivalent, implicating parent-of-origin specific genes generating this type of hybridization barrier. Recent work revealed that endosperm-based hybridization barriers are rapidly evolving. In this review, we discuss the developmental mechanisms causing hybrid seed lethality in angiosperms as well as the evolutionary forces establishing endosperm-based postzygotic hybridization barriers.


endosperm; genetic value; genomic imprinting; parental conflict; postzygotic hybridization barrier

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