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Plant Cell. 1998 Jan;10(1):5-17.

Genetic analysis of female gametophyte development and function.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City 84112, USA.


The female gametophyte is an absolutely essential structure for angiosperm reproduction. It produces the egg cell and central cell (which give rise to the embryo and endosperm, respectively) and mediates several reproductive processes including pollen tube guidance, fertilization, the induction of seed development, and perhaps also maternal control of embryo development. Although much has been learned about these processes at the cytological level, specific molecules mediating and controlling megagametogenesis and female gametophyte function have not been identified. A genetic approach to the identification of such molecules has been initiated in Arabidopsis and maize. Although genetic analyses are still in their infancy, mutations affecting female gametophyte function and specific steps of megagametogenesis have already been identified. Large-scale genetic screens aimed at identifying mutants affecting every step of megagametogenesis and female gametophyte function are in progress; the characterization of genes identified in these screens should go a long way toward defining the molecules that are required for female gametophyte development and function.

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