In flowering plants, fertilization involves multiple gametes. The diploid zygote, which will form the embryonic plant, is surrounded by the often triploid endosperm, which provides a supportive and nourishing function. Working in Arabidopsis, Costa et al. (see the Perspective by Bayer) identified a trio of small signaling peptides that derive from the endosperm but that regulate growth of the embryo. RNA interference was used to down-regulate expression of all three peptides. Fertilization was not affected, but seed growth was. The peptides were critical for normal development of the suspensor, which tethers and nourishes the growing embryo.
L. M. Costa, E. Marshall, M. Tesfaye, K. A. T. Silverstein, M. Mori, Y. Umetsu, S. L. Otterbach, R. Papareddy, H. G. Dickinson, K. Boutiller, K. A. VandenBosch, S. Ohki, J. F. Gutierrez-Marcos, Central cell–derived peptides regulate early embryo patterning in flowering plants. Science 344, 168–172 (2014). [Abstract] [Full Text]