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Chromatin Remodeling in Plants: Nuclear differentiation in the gametes and fertilization products

English title Chromatin Remodeling in Plants: Nuclear differentiation in the gametes and fertilization products
Applicant Baroux Célia
Number 118761
Funding scheme Marie Heim-Voegtlin grants
Research institution Institut für Pflanzen- und Mikrobiologie Universität Zürich
Institution of higher education University of Zurich - ZH
Main discipline Cellular Biology, Cytology
Start/End 01.11.2007 - 30.09.2008
Approved amount 87'058.00
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All Disciplines (3)

Cellular Biology, Cytology
Embryology, Developmental Biology

Keywords (4)

chromatin; gametogenesis; embyogenesis; Arabidopsis

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
Sexual reproduction in flowering plants involves the double fertilization of two, genetically identical female gametes by two identical sperm cells. This double fertilization produces the embryo and the endosperm, which are genetic twins except for their ploidy. The embryo will develop into the seedling and constitutes the next generation, while the endosperm is a temporary tissue dedicated to embryo nutrition and does not leave any descendants. Embryo and endosperm have distinct developmental fates although they are genetic twins. This poses the fascinating problem of how two genetically identical gametes are determined to take distinct post-fertilization fates, and how the two genetically identical zygotic products undergo distinct differentiation. It has been postulated that the nuclei from the developing female gametophyte (functionaly equivalent to the mamalian germline) acquire distinct identities that are encoded in a 'nuclear imprint', that is of epigenetic nature (Alleman and Grossniklaus, 2000). Chromatin modifications and organisation are candidate components of this imprint.This research aim at verifying this hypothesis and in particular at elucidating the role of chromatin structure and composition during nuclear differentiation between the siblings gametes and zygotic products. This has for long not be feasible due to a lack of techniques and the relative inaccessibilty of the plant gametes and fertilization products. The development of novel methodologies to investigate chromatin composition and organization in whole-mount plant ovules and seeds, in Arabidopsis, make it now possible.The knowledge derived from this research will be important to further understand epigenetic coding and reprogramming at fertilization in plants, and in comparison to animals. In addition, understanding the epigenetic basis of embryo and endosperm determination prior to fertilization may be an entry point to understand the evolution of the seed structure, and in particular of the endosperm which is not found in non flowering plants (e.g. pine). The knowledge will also serve as a basis to understand alternative modes of reproduction in plants, such as apomixis, an asexual mode of reproduction, where the gametic fate can be bypassed or ectopically expressed.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

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