Auxin production couples endosperm development to fertilization

Nat Plants. 2015 Nov 23;1:15184. doi: 10.1038/nplants.2015.184.


In flowering plants, seed development is preceded by a double fertilization event, whereby two male sperm cells fuse with two female gametes: the egg and central cells. The fertilized egg cell will form the embryo, and the fertilized central cell will give rise to the triploid endosperm, whose function is to nourish and support the embryo. Even though the endosperm has an unparalleled role for human nutrition, the molecular bases for its development are yet to be understood. Our results reveal that increasing auxin levels after fertilization drive the replication of the central cell in Arabidopsis thaliana. Auxin is sufficient to trigger central cell division and is necessary for correct endosperm development, a process dependent on the MADS-box transcription factor AGL62 (AGAMOUS-LIKE 62). We propose that the epigenetic regulators of the Polycomb group (PcG) family block central cell division before fertilization by repressing the expression of auxin biosynthesis genes in the female gametophyte.