Formation and specification of gametes is of paramount importance for all sexually reproducing organisms. In contrast to animals, plant gametes develop in few-celled haploid structures along with terminally differentiating accessory cells (Fig. 1). Making use of molecular, genetic and cell biological tools, our lab focuses on three research lines.
(i) Elucidation of the molecular mechanisms underlying the acquisition of the distinct cell fates.
(ii) Characterization of the regulatory pathways governing non-cell autonomous cell death programs, and
(iii) analysis of the molecular basis for plant polyspermy barriers.
Figure 1 Female gametophyte and seed formation.
A The female gametophyte contains seven cells, which differentiate into four distinct cell types: two synergids (dark green), one egg cell (red), one central cell containing two polar nuclei (orange) and three antipodal cells (light green). B The pollen tube (yellow) delivers two sperm cells, which fuse with the egg cell and the central cell. C The fertilization products develop into embryo (red) and endosperm (orange), respectively (Kägi et al., 2010).