INTRODUCTION Endosperm has been studied from a variety of vantage points: evolution, role in seed development and germination, genetics, physiology, and biochemistry. This tissue represents a renewable, biodegradable source of materials; much effort has been directed to improve its use in feed and food making as well as its refinementto secondary products such as oils and plastics. Although there is a vast literature dealing with each of these topics, we still have a remarkablysuperficial understanding of most of them. There has been revitalized interest in understanding the endosperm in relation to seed-specific developmental processes. lnformation from these studies could provide a basis for developing more efficient approaches for plant improvement and use. Recent advances in molecular biology have created the possibilityfor detailed study of many of the genetic and molecular mechanisms involved in endosperm development. This research could conceivably lead to answers to many basic questions in developmental biology as well as to new tools that enhance practical uses of endosperm. In this review, it is not our intention to present a comprehensiveoverview of what is known about endosperm. Rather, we have chosen to summarize some of the research that has been done, making note of comprehensive reviews
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