- Quantitative variation for apomictic reproduction in the genus Boechera (Brassicaceae)
- American Journal of Botany
- Volume | Issue number
- 97 | 10
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
• Premise of the study: The evolution of asexual seed production (apomixis) from sexual relatives is a great enigma of plant biology. The genus Boechera is ideal for studying apomixis because of its close relation to Arabidopsis and the occurrence of sexual and apomictic species at low ploidy levels (diploid and triploid). Apomixis is characterized by three components: unreduced embryo-sac formation (apomeiosis), fertilization-independent embryogenesis (parthenogenesis), and functional endosperm formation (pseudogamy or autonomous endosperm formation). Understanding the variation in these traits within and between species has been hindered by the laborious histological analyses required to analyze large numbers of samples.
• Methods: To quantify variability for the different components of apomictic seed development, we developed a high-throughput flow cytometric seed screen technique to measure embryo:endosperm ploidy in over 22000 single seeds derived from 71 accessions of diploid and triploid Boechera.
• Key results: Three interrelated features were identified within and among Boechera species: (1) variation for most traits associated with apomictic seed formation, (2) three levels of apomeiosis expression (low, high, obligate), and (3) correlations between apomeiosis and parthenogenesis/pseudogamy.
• Conclusions: The data presented here provide a framework for choosing specific genotypes for correlations with large "omics" data sets being collected for Boechera to study population structure, gene flow, and evolution of specific traits. We hypothesize that low levels of apomeiosis represent an ancestral condition of Boechera, whereas high apomeiosis levels may have been induced by global gene regulatory changes associated with hybridization.
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