Membrane vesicles and unreduced male gametes in flowering plants


Supervised by: Dr Lynette Brownfield 

Plant breeders rely on unreduced gametes to overcome reproductive barriers and generate novel varieties, but such gametes occur infrequently and are difficult to induce. We have previously identified a mechanism that leads to a high frequency of unreduced male gametes in the jason mutant in Arabidopsis (Brownfield et al., 2015, Nat Comms, 6:6492). This revealed that a band of organelles usually keeps two chromosome groups separated during the second meiotic division, and loss of this organelle band leads to unreduced gamete formation. Furthermore, endomembrane vesicles are likely to be important for the maintenance of the organelle band throughout the second division.

The aim of this proposal is to target meiotic cells for the genetic knockdown of a range of proteins known to be involved in endomembrane trafficking and function in other cell types, and analyze the impact on meiosis, and the organelle band in particular. This will provide novel insight into the nature of membrane vesicles in male meiosis in flowering plants and also inform strategies that target the organelle band as a novel method for generating unreduced gametes for plant breeding.