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Hypoxia Triggers Meiotic Fate Acquisition in Maize

Science, 20 July 2012
Vol. 337, Issue 6092, p. 345-348
DOI: 10.1126/science.1220080

Hypoxia Triggers Meiotic Fate Acquisition in Maize

  1. Timothy Kelliher*,
  2. Virginia Walbot*
  1. Department of Biology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.
  1. *E-mail: tkellih1{at} (T.K.); walbot{at} (V.W.)


Evidence from confocal microscopic reconstruction of maize anther development in fertile, mac1 (excess germ cells), and msca1 (no germ cells) flowers indicates that the male germ line is multiclonal and uses the MAC1 protein to organize the somatic niche. Furthermore, we identified redox status as a determinant of germ cell fate, defining a mechanism distinct from the animal germ cell lineage. Decreasing oxygen or H2O2 increases germ cell numbers, stimulates superficial germ cell formation, and rescues germinal differentiation in msca1 flowers. Conversely, oxidizing environments inhibit germ cell specification and cause ectopic differentiation in deeper tissues. We propose that hypoxia, arising naturally within growing anther tissue, acts as a positional cue to set germ cell fate.

  • Received for publication 6 February 2012.
  • Accepted for publication 2 May 2012.


T. Kelliher and V. Walbot, Hypoxia Triggers Meiotic Fate Acquisition in Maize. Science 337, 345-348 (2012).

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