The phenomenon of autonomous endosperm in sexual and apomictic plants

Joanna Rojek*, Nir Ohad*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Endosperm is a key nutritive tissue that supports the developing embryo or seedling, and serves as a major nutritional source for human and livestock feed. In sexually-reproducing flowering plants, it generally develops after fertilization. However, autonomous endosperm (AE) formation (i.e. independent of fertilization) is also possible. Recent findings of AE loci/ genes and aberrant imprinting in native apomicts, together with a successful initiation of parthenogenesis in rice and lettuce, have enhanced our understanding of the mechanisms bridging sexual and apomictic seed formation. However, the mechanisms driving AE development are not well understood. This review presents novel aspects related to AE development in sexual and asexual plants underlying stress conditions as the primary trigger for AE. Both application of hormones to unfertilized ovules and mutations that impair epigenetic regulation lead to AE development in sexual Arabidopsis thaliana, which may point to a common pathway for both phenomena. Apomictic-like AE development under experimental conditions can take place due to auxin-dependent gene expression and/or DNA methylation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4324-4348
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Issue number15
StatePublished - 17 Aug 2023


FundersFunder number
University of Gdansk531-D030-D847-22
Israel Science Foundation767/09, 504/74


    • Apomixis
    • autonomous endosperm
    • autonomous seed
    • auxin
    • endosperm development
    • mammalian sex hormones
    • parthenogenesis
    • plant female gametophyte
    • plant reproduction


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