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Sexual reproduction development in apomictic Eulaliopsis binata (Poaceae)

Genet. Mol. Res. 10 (4) : 2326 - 2339

Apomixis is a particular mode of reproduction that allows progeny formation without meiosis and fertilization. Eulaliopsis binata, a tetraploid apomictic species, is widely used for making paper, rope and mats. There is great potential for fixation of heterosis in E. binata due to autonomous endosperm formation in this species. Although most of its embryo sac originates from nucellus cells, termed apospory, we observed sexual reproduction initiation in 86.8 to 96.8% of the ovules, evidenced by callose deposition on the walls of cells undergoing megasporogenesis. However, only 2-3% mature polygonum-type sexual embryo sacs were confirmed by embryological investigation. Callose was not detected on aposporous initial cell walls. The aposporous initial cells differentiated during pre- and post-meiosis of the megaspore mother cell, while the sexual embryo sac degenerated at the megaspore stage. DNA content ratio of embryo and endosperm in some individuals was 2C:3C, based on flow cytometry screening of seed, similar to that of normal sexual seed. These results confirm that apomictic E. binata has conserved sexual reproduction to a certain degree, which may contribute to maintaining genetic diversity. The finding of sexual reproduction in apomictic E. binata could be useful for research on genetic mechanism of apomixis in E. binata.