Plant Science

Abstaining from Sex

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Science  26 Jun 2009:
Vol. 324, Issue 5935, pp. 1619
DOI: 10.1126/science.324_1619c

When a desirable plant appears, featuring an unusual flower color or a valuable nutritional trait, it would be handy to be able to propagate identical versions of that individual, but apomixis (asexual reproduction through seeds) is uncommon in crop plants. d'Erfurth et al. have identified a gene in the sexual plant Arabidopsis that causes an omission of the second meiotic division (OSD1) during gametogenesis. Developing gametes that carry mutations in OSD1 generate two diploid rather than four haploid cells. These gametes are functional and give rise after fertilization to plants with increased ploidy. Although aspects of recombination during the first meiotic division generated progeny not identical to the parent, by combining the OSD1 mutation with two other mutations that alter the first meiotic division, the authors obtained gametes that carried the same genetic program as the parental plant, a promising start to engineering apomixis.

PLoS Biol. 7, e1000124 (2009).

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