Navigation Links
Breakthrough study solves plant sex mystery

A team of biologists from the University of Leicester has solved a mystery surrounding how plants have sex.

The researchers have discovered a pair of proteins made by flowering plants that are vital for the production of the sperm present within each pollen grain.

Scientists already knew that flowering plants, in contrast to animals, require not one, but two sperm cells for successful fertilisation: one to join with the egg cell to produce the embryo and one to join with a second cell to produce the nutrient-rich endosperm inside the seed.

The mystery of this 'double fertilization' process is how each single pollen grain is able to produce twin sperm cells.

This breakthrough study from the Twell Laboratory at the University of Leicester, published in the prestigious academic journal The Plant Cell, has found a pair of genes called DAZ1 and DAZ2 that are essential for making twin sperm cells. Plants with mutated versions of DAZ1 and DAZ2 produce pollen grains with a single sperm that is unable to fertilize.

The researchers show that DAZ1 and DAZ2 are controlled by the protein DUO1 that acts as a 'master switch' - so that DUO1 and the DAZ1/DAZ2 genes work in tandem to control a gene network that ensures a pair of fertile sperm is made inside each pollen grain.

Interestingly, DAZ1 and DAZ2 perform their role by cooperating with a well-known 'repressor' protein called TOPLESS that acts as a brake on unwanted gene activity that would otherwise halt sperm and seed production. Although TOPLESS has many roles in plants it has not previously been linked sperm production.

Professor David Twell at the University of Leicester's Department of Biology, who led the study, said: "We often take for granted sexual reproduction in plants and its role in our lives. It is a complex process that has been studied scientifically for over a century, but it is only recently that we are beginning to get a grip on the underlying mechanisms.

"We hope to use our discovery to decipher the origins of sexual reproduction and to further demystify the fascinating process - of how plants make the fertile sperm inside the pollen grains - that are essential for the vast majority of our food crop production."

Given their important role in male fertility, the discovery of DAZ1 and DAZ2 has the potential to be applied in the development of new plant breeding techniques to prevent the unwanted passing of genes or 'horizontal gene transfer' - between crops or from crops to wild species.

This new knowledge also generates genetic tools and new ways of thinking about, and monitoring the effects of, environmental stresses on the reproductive process. In future such information may become increasingly important as we strive to breed superior crops that maintain yield in a changing climate.


Contact: David Twell
University of Leicester

Related biology news :

1. Breakthrough shows how DNA is edited to correct genetic diseases
2. Breakthrough method for making Janus or patchy capsules
3. Research breakthrough paves the way for understanding serious diseases
4. Major breakthrough in understanding Prader-Willi Syndrome, a parental imprinting disorder
5. Breakthrough made at Max F. Perutz Laboratories
6. Major breakthrough in stem cell manufacturing technology
7. New invasive species breakthrough sparks interest around the world
8. A micro-muscular breakthrough
9. Scripps oceanography researchers engineer breakthrough for biofuel production
10. Breakthrough in adult heart repair
11. Breakthrough by Temple researchers could lead to new treatment for heart attack
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Breakthrough study solves plant sex mystery
(Date:3/30/2017)... -- On April 6-7, 2017, will host the world,s ... at Microsoft,s headquarters in Redmond, Washington ... health and wellness apps that provide a unique, personalized ... is the first hackathon for personal genomics and the ... the genomics, tech and health industries are sending teams ...
(Date:3/29/2017)... 29, 2017  higi, the health IT company that ... North America , today announced a Series B ... of EveryMove. The new investment and acquisition accelerates higi,s ... to transform population health activities through the collection and ... higi collects and secures data today on behalf ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... -- The Controller General of Immigration from Maldives Mr. ... have received the prestigious international IAIR Award for the most innovative high ... ... Maldives Immigration Controller ... (small picture on the right) have received the IAIR award for the ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... At its national ... Dr. Suneel I. Sheikh, the co-founder, CEO and chief research scientist of Minnesota-based ... selected for membership in ARCS Alumni Hall of Fame . ASTER Labs ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 11, 2017 , ... ComplianceOnline’s Medical ... place on 7th and 8th June 2018 in San Francisco, CA. The Summit brings ... well as several distinguished CEOs, board directors and government officials from around the world ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... Netherlands and LAGUNA HILLS, Calif. ... Institute of Cancer Research, London (ICR) ... MMprofilerâ„¢ with SKY92, SkylineDx,s prognostic tool to risk-stratify patients with ... known as MUK nine . The University of ... which is partly funded by Myeloma UK, and ICR will ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... ... granted orphan drug designation to SBT-100, its novel anti-STAT3 (Signal Transducer and Activator ... osteosarcoma. SBT-100 is able to cross the cell membrane and bind intracellular STAT3 ...
Breaking Biology Technology: