Auxin production couples endosperm development to fertilization


In flowering plants, seed development is preceded by a double fertilization event, whereby two male sperm cells fuse with two female gametes: the egg and central cells. The fertilized egg cell will form the embryo, and the fertilized central cell will give rise to the triploid endosperm, whose function is to nourish and support the embryo. Even though the endosperm has an unparalleled role for human nutrition, the molecular bases for its development are yet to be understood. Our results reveal that increasing auxin levels after fertilization drive the replication of the central cell in Arabidopsis thaliana. Auxin is sufficient to trigger central cell division and is necessary for correct endosperm development, a process dependent on the MADS-box transcription factor AGL62 (AGAMOUS-LIKE 62). We propose that the epigenetic regulators of the Polycomb group (PcG) family block central cell division before fertilization by repressing the expression of auxin biosynthesis genes in the female gametophyte.

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Figure 1: Auxin is produced post-fertilization in the endosperm of Arabidopsis.
Figure 2: Auxin-related mutants show endosperm defects.
Figure 3: Auxin induces autonomous endosperm development.
Figure 4: fis-class mutant ovules produce auxin ectopically.
Figure 5: AGL62 is required for autonomous endosperm development.


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We are indebted to D. Weijers for providing the R2D2 system and DR5v2 reporter before publication, and to H. Robert and J. Friml for providing the YUC10 reporter. This research was supported by a European Research Council Starting Independent Researcher grant (to C.K.), a grant from the Swedish Science Foundation (to C.K.) and a grant from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation (to C.K.).

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D.D.F., R.A.B. and P.J.R. carried out the experimental procedures. D.D.F., R.A.B., P.J.R. and C.K. performed the experimental design. D.D.F. and C.K. wrote the manuscript. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Claudia Köhler.

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Figueiredo, D., Batista, R., Roszak, P. et al. Auxin production couples endosperm development to fertilization. Nature Plants 1, 15184 (2015).

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