Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Summary Endosperm of the nuclear type initially develops into a large multinucleate syncytium that lines the central cell. This seemingly simple wall-less cytoplasm can, however, be highly differentiated. In developing seeds of members of the family Brassicaceae the curved postfertilization embryo sac comprises three chambers or developmental domains. The syncytium fills the micropylar chamber around the embryo, spreads as a thin peripheral layer surrounding a large central vacuole in the central chamber, and is organized into individual nodules and a large multinucleate cyst in the chalazal tip. Later in development, after the endosperm has cellularized in the micropylar and central chambers, the chalazal endosperm cyst remains syncytial and shows considerable internal differentiation. The chalazal endosperm cyst consists of a domelike apical region that is separated from the cellularized endosperm by a remnant of the central vacuole and a basal haustorial portion which penetrates the chalazal proliferative tissue atop the vascular supply. In the shallow chalazal depression ofArabidopsis thaliana, the cyst is mushroom-shaped with short tentacle-like processes penetrating the maternal tissues. The long narrow chalazal channel ofLepidium irginicum is filled by an elongate stalklike portion of the cyst. In both, the dome contains a labyrinth of endoplasmic reticulum, dictyosomes with associated vesicles, nuclei, and plastids. The basal portions, which lack the larger organelles, exhibit extensive wall ingrowths and contain parallel arrays of microtubules. The highly specialized ultrastructure of the chalazal endosperm cyst and its intimate association with degrading chalazal proliferative cells suggest an important role in loading of maternal resources into the developing seed.
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