The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 46: 1035 - 1047 (2002)

Vol 46, Issue 8

Young microspore-derived maize embryos show two domains with defined features also present in zygotic embryogenesis

Published: 1 December 2002

Pilar S Testillano, Carmen Ramírez, Jezabel Domenech, Maria-José Coronado, Phillipe Vergne, Elisabeth Matthys-Rochon and María C Risueño

Plant Development and Nuclear Organization, Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas, CSIC, Madrid, Spain.


In this work we report the existence of two domains in early microspore maize proembryos displaying similar features of zygotic embryogenesis. The large or so-called endosperm-like domain exhibits specific features: coenocytic organisation, synchronous mitosis, vacuolated cytoplasm, starch granules, incomplete walls containing callose and differential tubuline organisation. The small or embryo-like domain displays small polygonal uninucleate cells with typical organisation of proliferating cells. The structural organisation and the subcellular localization of specific cytoplasmic and cell wall components (starch, tubuline and callose) in both proembryo domains have been determined by using specific cytochemical and immunocytochemical methods. Four morphological types of proembryos containing both domains have been characterised. Taking into account their relative size, the high asynchrony of the culture and the homologies between structural features of endosperm-like domain and zygotic endosperm development, they could represent different stages in microspore embryogenesis development. The ZmAE1 and ZmAE3 genes expressed in the Embryo Surrounding Region of the endosperm during zygotic embryogenesis (Magnard et al., 2000), were revealed to be expressed in early microspore proembryos by in situ hybridization at light and electron microscopy levels. This data supports the existence of an endosperm-like function during early microspore embryogenesis and provides new insights into the onset of microspore embryogenesis in maize, and its parallelism with zygotic embryogenesis.

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