Anther Development Dissected

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Science  11 Feb 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6018, pp. 651
DOI: 10.1126/science.331.6018.651-c

Anthers are the male reproductive organ of flowering plants. Unlike in animals, they originate from somatic tissue, of which a small subset of cells undergoes meiosis and develops into pollen. Kelliher and Walbot used confocal microscopy to dissect the developmental stages of the maize anther (located in the tassel at the top of the plant) to provide a timeline of anther development and maturation, from organ initiation to pollen release. They found that cell growth was regulated by neighboring tissues and that cells within the same tissue grew at different rates and within different dimensions. Of interest, although cell sizes differed, cells of similar size clustered together. This indicates that cells of the same genetic origin may undergo synchronous division. These observations are in contrast to existing models, which suggest that anthers develop through growth waves. Future studies are needed to determine the mechanisms that regulate the asymmetrical growth in neighboring cells of the same tissue, and what its function may be.

Dev. Biol. 350, 32 (2011).

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