Apomixis: a developmental perspective

Annu Rev Plant Biol. 2003;54:547-74. doi: 10.1146/annurev.arplant.54.110901.160842.


The term apomixis encompasses a suite of processes whereby seeds form asexually in plants. In contrast to sexual reproduction, seedlings arising from apomixis retain the genotype of the maternal parent. The transfer of apomixis and its effective utilization in crop plants (where it is largely absent) has major advantages in agriculture. The hallmark components of apomixis include female gamete formation without meiosis (apomeiosis), fertilization-independent embryo development (parthenogenesis), and developmental adaptations to ensure functional endosperm formation. Understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying apomixis, a developmentally fascinating phenomenon in plants, is critical for the successful induction and utilization of apomixis in crop plants. This review draws together knowledge gained from analyzing ovule, embryo, and endosperm development in sexual and apomictic plants. It consolidates the view that apomixis and sexuality are closely interrelated developmental pathways where apomixis can be viewed as a deregulation of the sexual process in both time and space.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Fertilization
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / physiology
  • Genes, Plant
  • Models, Biological
  • Morphogenesis
  • Mutation
  • Plant Development*
  • Plant Physiological Phenomena*
  • Plants / genetics
  • Reproduction
  • Seeds / physiology