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Science 324 (5935): 1684-1689

Copyright © 2009 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Auxin-Dependent Patterning and Gamete Specification in the Arabidopsis Female Gametophyte

Gabriela C. Pagnussat,1,* Monica Alandete-Saez,1 John L. Bowman,1,2 Venkatesan Sundaresan1,3,{dagger}

Abstract: The female reproductive unit of flowering plants, the haploid female gametophyte, is highly reduced relative to other land plants. We show that patterning of the Arabidopsis female gametophyte depends on an asymmetric distribution of the hormone auxin during its syncitial development. Furthermore, this auxin gradient is correlated with location-specific auxin biosynthesis, rather than auxin efflux that directs patterning in the diploid sporophytic tissues comprising the rest of the plant. Manipulation of auxin responses or synthesis induces switching of gametic and nongametic cell identities and specialized nonreproductive cells to exhibit attributes presumptively lost during angiosperm evolution. These findings may account for the unique egg cell specification characteristic of angiosperms and the formation of seeds with single diploid embryos while containing endosperm that can have variable numbers of parental haploid genomes.

1 Department of Plant Biology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA.
2 School of Biological Sciences, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria 3800, Australia.
3 Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA.

* Present address: Instituto de Investigaciones Biológicas, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, 7600 Mar del Plata, Argentina.

{dagger} To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: sundar{at}ucdavis.edu


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