Although maize endosperm undergoes programmed cell death during its development, it is not known whether this developmental feature is common to cereals or whether it arose inadvertently from the selection process that resulted in the enlarged endosperm of modern maize. Examination of wheat endosperm during its development revealed that this tissue undergoes a programmed cell death that shares features with the maize program but differs in some aspects of its execution. Cell death initiated and progressed stochastically in wheat endosperm in contrast to maize where cell death initiates within the upper central endosperm and expands outward. After a peak of ethylene production during early development, wheat endosperm DNA underwent internucleosomal fragmentation that was detectable from mid to late development. The developmental onset and progression of DNA degradation was regulated by the level of ethylene production and perception. These observations suggest that programmed cell death of the endosperm and regulation of this program by ethylene is not unique to maize but that differences in the execution of the program appear to exist among cereals.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 19, 2004
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