Developmental genetics of gametophytic apomixis

Trends Genet. 2001 Oct;17(10):597-604. doi: 10.1016/s0168-9525(01)02454-4.


Some higher plants reproduce asexually by apomixis, a natural way of cloning through seeds. Apomictic plants produce progeny that are an exact genetic replica of the mother plant. The replication is achieved through changes in the female reproductive pathway such that female gametes develop without meiosis and embryos develop without fertilization. Although apomixis is a complex developmental process, genetic evidence suggests that it might be inherited as a simple mendelian trait - a paradox that could be explained by recent data derived from apomictic species and model sexual organisms. The data suggest that apomixis might rely more on a global deregulation of sexual reproductive development than on truly new functions, and molecular mechanisms for such a global deregulation can be proposed. This new understanding has direct consequences for the engineering of apomixis in sexual crop species, an application that could have an immense impact on agriculture.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture
  • Genes, Plant
  • Genomic Imprinting
  • Models, Genetic
  • Plant Development*
  • Plant Physiological Phenomena
  • Plants / genetics*
  • Polyploidy
  • Reproduction, Asexual / genetics