The plant life cycle alternates between a diploid sporophyte generation and a haploid gametophyte generation. The angiosperm female gametophyte is critical to the reproductive process. It is the structure within which egg cell production and fertilization take place. In addition, the female gametophyte plays a role in pollen tube guidance, the induction of seed development, and the maternal control of seed development. Genetic analysis in Arabidopsis has uncovered mutations that affect female gametophyte development and function. Mutants defective in almost all stages of development have been identified, and analysis of these mutants is beginning to reveal features of the female gametophyte developmental program. Other mutations that affect female gametophyte function have uncovered regulatory genes required for the induction of endosperm development. From these studies, we are beginning to understand the regulatory networks involved in female gametophyte development and function. Further investigation of the female gametophyte will require complementary approaches including expression-based approaches to obtain a complete profile of the genes functioning within this critical structure.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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