Control of early seed development

Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2001;17:677-99. doi: 10.1146/annurev.cellbio.17.1.677.


Seed development requires coordinated expression of embryo and endosperm and has contributions from both sporophytic and male and female gametophytic genes. Genetic and molecular analyses in recent years have started to illuminate how products of these multiple genes interact to initiate seed development. Imprinting or differential expression of paternal and maternal genes seems to be involved in controlling seed development, presumably by controlling gene expression in developing endosperm. Epigenetic processes such as chromatin remodeling and DNA methylation affect imprinting of key seed-specific genes; however, the identity of many of these genes remains unknown. The discovery of FIS genes has illuminated control of autonomous endosperm development, a component of apomixis, which is an important developmental and agronomic trait. FIS genes are targets of imprinting, and the genes they control in developing endosperm are also regulated by DNA methylation and chromatin remodeling genes. These results define some exciting future areas of research in seed development.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chromatin / genetics
  • Chromatin / physiology
  • DNA Methylation
  • DNA, Plant / genetics
  • Fertilization / genetics
  • Fertilization / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / physiology
  • Gene Silencing
  • Genomic Imprinting / genetics
  • Genomic Imprinting / physiology
  • Germ Cells / physiology
  • Plant Proteins / genetics*
  • Plant Proteins / physiology
  • Seeds / embryology*
  • Seeds / genetics*
  • Seeds / physiology


  • Chromatin
  • DNA, Plant
  • Plant Proteins