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An electron microscope study on in vitro parthenogenesis in sunflower


Electron microscope studies have been conducted on the parthenogenesis induced by in vitro culture of unfertilized ovules of sunflower (Helianthus annuus). In comparison with the state of the egg prior to inoculation, some eggs 5 days after culture show striking ultrastructural changes, which include, among others, nuclear migration, an increase in the number and activity of the organelles, a loss of polarity and wall formation at the chalazal end of the cell. Most of these changes are similar to those that occur normally in the zygote, indicating that parthenogenic development has been triggered in these eggs. Such eggs have been termed activated and are presumed to be capable of undergoing parthenogenesis. The parthenogenic proembryos which result share some features in common with zygotic proembryos. In addition, some parthenogenic proembryos exhibit unique properties not found in zygotic proembryos. These include embryos that consist of two parts differing markedly in density, an inversion of polarity, the frequent occurrence of autophagic vacuoles, the thickening of cell walls, a centripetal growth mode of wall formation, the appearance of an incomplete cell wall, free nuclear division, amitosis and degeneration. We believe that these ultrastructural peculiarities are the effects of in vitro culture.

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Yan, H., Yang, H. & Jensen, W.A. An electron microscope study on in vitro parthenogenesis in sunflower. Sexual Plant Reprod 2, 154–166 (1989).

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Key words

  • Helianthus annuus
  • Unfertilized ovule culture
  • Parthenogenesis
  • Ultrastructure
  • Proembryo