U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


Main content area

Functional genomics of microspore embryogenesis

Hosp, Julia, de Maraschin, Simone Faria, Touraev, Alisher, Boutilier, Kim
Euphytica 2007 v.158 no.3 pp. 275-285
barley, haploidy, gametophytes, tobacco, Hordeum vulgare, androgenesis, embryo (plant), sporophytes, wheat, gene expression, microspores, genomics, Brassica napus, doubled haploids, Nicotiana tabacum, homozygosity, Triticum aestivum, rapeseed
Isolated plant microspores, when stressed and cultured in vitro, can be diverted from their normal gametophytic pathway towards sporophytic development, with the formation of haploid embryos and ultimately doubled-haploid plants. This process is called androgenesis or microspore embryogenesis, and is widely used in plant breeding programmes to generate homozygous lines for breeding purposes. Protocols for the induction of microspore embryogenesis and the subsequent regeneration of doubled haploid (DH) plants have been successfully developed for more than 200 species. These practical advances stand in stark contrast to our knowledge of the underlying molecular genetic mechanism controlling this process. The majority of information regarding the genetic and molecular control of the developmental switch from gametophytic to sporophytic development has been garnered from four intensely studied (crop) plants comprising two dicotyledonous species, rapeseed (Brassica napus) and tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum), and two monocotyledonous species, wheat (Triticum aestivum) and barley (Hordeum vulgare). In these species the efficiency of microspore embryogenesis is very high and reproducible, making them suitable models for molecular studies. In the past, molecular studies on microspore embryogenesis have focussed mainly on the identification of genes that are differentially expressed during this developmental transition and/or early in embryo development, and have identified a number of genes whose expression marks or predicts the developmental fate of stressed microspores. More recently, functional genomics approaches have been used to obtain a broad overview of the molecular processes that take place during the establishment of microspore embryogenesis. In this review we summarise accumulated molecular data obtained in rapeseed, tobacco, wheat and barley on embryogenic induction of microspores and define common aspects involved in the androgenic switch.