In contrast to animals, the plant male germline is established after meiosis in distinctive haploid structures, termed pollen grains. The germline arises by a distinct asymmetric division of the meiotic products (1, 2, 3) . The fates of the resulting vegetative and generative cells are distinct. In contrast to the larger vegetative cell, arrested in the G1 phase of the cell cycle, the smaller generative cell divides once to produce the two male gametes or sperm cells. Sperm cells are delivered to the female gametes by the pollen tube, which develops from the vegetative cell. In spite of recent efforts to understand pollen development (4–8) , the molecular pathway controlling sperm-cell ontogenesis is unknown. Here, we present the isolation of DUO1 , a novel R2R3 MYB gene of Arabidopsis , as the first gene shown to control male gamete formation in plants. DUO1 is specifically expressed in the male germline, and DUO1 protein accumulates in sperm-cell nuclei. Mutations in DUO1 produce a single larger diploid sperm cell unable to perform fertilization. DUO1 appears to be evolutionarily conserved in several plant species and defines a new subfamily of pollen-specific MYB genes.
Current Biology – Elsevier
Published: Feb 8, 2005
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