CCMB identifies genes in plants that can used to produce seeds

This phenomenon of clonal seed formation, known as apomixis, occurs naturally in a few plant species, CCMB Director Dr Ch Mohan Rao said told PTI.

First time in the world, the CCMB scientists have desired to embark upon engineering apomixes into food crops, even though it would take 4 to 5 years of research, Rao said.
This is a key finding as it shows, for the first time, that the equivalent of apomixis can be achieved by manipulating known genes that function during normal sexual reproduction and cell division. The study suggests strategies for engineering apomixis in food crops, he said.
Apomixis has two functional components. The first is the avoidance of a specialised type of cell division called meiosis that occurs during germ cell formation and gives rise to egg and sperm cells that contain only one set of genetic information (chromosomes), starting from a cell with two sets (one set comes from the mother and one from the father).

The avoidance of meiosis, known as apomeiosis, results in the formation of egg cells that contain two sets of information: exactly the same sets that are present in the parent plant, he said.

The second component of apomixis, known as parthenogenesis, is the ability of the egg cell to develop into an embryo and eventually a seed, without the need to be fertilised by a sperm cell coming from the pollen, the CCMB director said.

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