American journal of botany

Chloroplasts in anther endothecium of Zea mays (Poaceae).

PMID 26526813


Although anthers of Zea mays, Oryza sativa, and Arabidopsis thaliana have been studied intensively using genetic and biochemical analyses in the past 20 years, few updates to anther anatomical and ultrastructural descriptions have been reported. For example, no transmission electron microscopy (TEM) images of the premeiotic maize anther have been published. Here we report the presence of chloroplasts in maize anthers. TEM imaging, electron acceptor photosynthesis assay, in planta photon detection, microarray analysis, and light and fluorescence microscopy were used to investigate the presence of chloroplasts in the maize anther. Most cells of the maize subepidermal endothecium have starch-containing chloroplasts that do not conduct measurable photosynthesis in vitro. The maize anther contains chloroplasts in most subepidermal, endothecial cells. Although maize anthers receive sufficient light to photosynthesize in vivo and the maize anther transcribes >96% of photosynthesis-associated genes found in the maize leaf, no photosynthetic light reaction activity was detected in vitro. The endothecial cell layer should no longer be defined as a complete circle viewed transversely in anther lobes, because chloroplasts are observed only in cells directly beneath the epidermis and not those adjacent to the connective tissue. We propose that chloroplasts be a defining characteristic of differentiated endothecial cells and that nonsubepidermal endothecial cells that lack chloroplasts be defined as a separate cell type, the interendothecium.

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