Developing the next plant generation within the seed requires the coordination of complex programs driving pattern formation, growth, and differentiation of the three main seed compartments: the embryo (future plant), the endosperm (storage compartment), representing the two filial tissues, and the surrounding maternal tissues. This review focuses on the signaling pathways and molecular players involved in early maize kernel development. In the 2 weeks following pollination, functional tissues are shaped from single cells, readying the kernel for filling with storage compounds. Although the overall picture of the signaling pathways regulating embryo and endosperm development remains fragmentary, several types of molecular actors, such as hormones, sugars, or peptides, have been shown to be involved in particular aspects of these developmental processes. These molecular actors are likely to be components of signaling pathways that lead to transcriptional programming mediated by transcriptional factors. Through the integrated action of these components, multiple types of information received by cells or tissues lead to the correct differentiation and patterning of kernel compartments. In this review, recent advances regarding the four types of molecular actors (hormones, sugars, peptides/receptors, and transcription factors) involved in early maize development are presented.
Keywords: Zea mays; embryo; endosperm; maize kernel; seed development; signaling.
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