Unreduced gamete formation in plants: mechanisms and prospects

J Exp Bot. 2011 Mar;62(5):1659-68. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erq371. Epub 2010 Nov 25.


Polyploids, organisms with more than two sets of chromosomes, are widespread in flowering plants, including many important crop species. Increases in ploidy level are believed to arise commonly through the production of gametes that have not had their ploidy level reduced during meiosis. Although there have been cytological descriptions of unreduced gamete formation in a number of plants, until recently none of the underlying genes or molecular mechanisms involved in unreduced gamete production have been described. The recent discovery of several genes in which mutations give rise to a high frequency of unreduced gametes in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana opens the door to the elucidation of this important event and its manipulation in crop species. Here this recent progress is reviewed and the identified genes and the mechanism by which the loss of protein function leads to the formation of unreduced gametes are discussed. The potential to use the knowledge gained from Arabidopsis mutants to design tools and develop techniques to engineer unreduced gamete production in important crop species for use in plant breeding is also discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis / physiology*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism*
  • Gametogenesis, Plant / genetics*
  • Genome, Plant / genetics*
  • Germ Cells / physiology
  • Meiosis / genetics
  • Models, Genetic
  • Mutation
  • Phenotype
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / genetics
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / physiology
  • Polyploidy


  • Arabidopsis Proteins