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Research article2003Peer reviewedOpen access

Re-organisation of the cytoskeleton during developmental programmed cell death in Picea abies embryos

Smertenko AP, Bozhkov PV, Filonova LH, von Arnold S, Hussey PJ


Cell and tissue patterning in plant embryo development is well documented. Moreover, it has recently been shown that successful embryogenesis is reliant on programmed cell death (PCD). The cytoskeleton governs cell morphogenesis. However, surprisingly little is known about the role of the cytoskeleton in plant embryogenesis and associated PCD. We have used the gymnosperm, Picea abies , somatic embryogenesis model system to address this question. Formation of the apical-basal embryonic pattern in P. abies proceeds through the establishment of three major cell types: the meristematic cells of the embryonal mass on one pole and the terminally differentiated suspensor cells on the other, separated by the embryonal tube cells. The organisation of microtubules and F-actin changes successively from the embryonal mass towards the distal end of the embryo suspensor. The microtubule arrays appear normal in the embryonal mass cells, but the microtubule network is partially disorganised in the embryonal tube cells and the microtubules disrupted in the suspensor cells. In the same embryos, the microtubule-associated protein, MAP-65, is bound only to organised microtubules. In contrast, in a developmentally arrested cell line, which is incapable of normal embryonic pattern formation, MAP-65 does not bind the cortical microtubules and we suggest that this is a criterion for proembryogenic masses (PEMs) to passage into early embryogeny. In embryos, the organisation of F-actin gradually changes from a fine network in the embryonal mass cells to thick cables in the suspensor cells in which the microtubule network is completely degraded. F-actin de-polymerisation drugs abolish normal embryonic pattern formation and associated PCD in the suspensor, strongly suggesting that the actin network is vital in this PCD pathway

Published in

Plant Journal
2003, Volume: 33, number: 5, pages: 813-824