A male-sterile mutant of Arabidopsis thaliana was isolated by T-DNA tagging screening. Using transmission electron microscopy analysis, we revealed that the microspores of this mutant did not have normal thick primexine on the microspore at the tetrad stage. Instead, a moderately electron-dense layer formed around the microspores. Although microspores without normal primexine failed to form a proper reticulate exine pattern at later stages, sporopollenin was deposited and an exine-like hackly structure was observed on the microspores during the microspore stage. Thus, this mutant was named hackly microspore (hkm). It is speculated that the moderately electron-dense layer was primexine, which partially played its role in sporopollenin deposition onto the microspore. Cytological analysis revealed that the tapetum of the hkm mutant was significantly vacuolated, and that vacuolated tapetal cells crushed the microspores, resulting in the absence of pollen grains within the anther at anthesis. Single nucleotide polymorphism analysis demonstrated that the hkm mutation exists within the MS1 gene, which has been reportedly expressed within the tapetum. Our results suggest that the critical process of primexine formation is under sporophytic control.
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