The female gametophytes of angiosperms contain cells with distinct functions, such as those that enable reproduction via pollen tube attraction and fertilization. Although the female gametophyte undergoes unique developmental processes, such as several rounds of nuclear division without cell plate formation and final cellularization, it remains unknown when and how the cell fate is determined during development. Here, we visualized the living dynamics of female gametophyte development and performed transcriptome analysis of individual cell types to assess the cell fate specifications in Arabidopsis thaliana. We recorded time lapses of the nuclear dynamics and cell plate formation from the 1-nucleate stage to the 7-cell stage after cellularization using an in vitro ovule culture system. The movies showed that the nuclear division occurred along the micropylar–chalazal (distal–proximal) axis. During cellularization, the polar nuclei migrated while associating with the forming edge of the cell plate, and then, migrated toward each other to fuse linearly. We also tracked the gene expression dynamics and identified that the expression of MYB98pro::GFP–MYB98, a synergid-specific marker, was initiated just after cellularization in the synergid, egg, and central cells and was then restricted to the synergid cells. This indicated that cell fates are determined immediately after cellularization. Transcriptome analysis of the female gametophyte cells of the wild-type and myb98 mutant revealed that the myb98 synergid cells had egg cell–like gene expression profiles. Although in myb98, egg cell–specific gene expression was properly initiated in the egg cells only after cellularization, but subsequently expressed ectopically in one of the 2 synergid cells. These results, together with the various initiation timings of the egg cell–specific genes, suggest complex regulation of the individual gametophyte cells, such as cellularization-triggered fate initiation, MYB98-dependent fate maintenance, cell morphogenesis, and organelle positioning. Our system of live-cell imaging and cell type–specific gene expression analysis provides insights into the dynamics and mechanisms of cell fate specifications in the development of female gametophytes in plants.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)