Role of endoreduplication and apomeiosis during parthenogenetic reproduction in the model brown alga Ectocarpus

John Bothwell, D. Marie, A.F. Peters, J.M. Cock, S.M. Coelho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Citations (Scopus)


The filamentous brown alga Ectocarpus has a complex life cycle, involving alternation between independent and morphologically distinct sporophyte and gametophyte generations. In addition to this basic haploid–diploid life cycle, gametes can germinate parthenogenetically to produce parthenosporophytes. This article addresses the question of how parthenosporophytes, which are derived from a haploid progenitor cell, are able to produce meiospores in unilocular sporangia, a process that normally involves a reductive meiotic division.
We used flow cytometry, multiphoton imaging, culture studies and a bioinformatics survey of the recently sequenced Ectocarpus genome to describe its life cycle under laboratory conditions and the nuclear DNA changes which accompany key developmental transitions.
Endoreduplication occurs during the first cell cycle in about one-third of parthenosporophytes. The production of meiospores by these diploid parthenosporophytes involves a meiotic division similar to that observed in zygote-derived sporophytes. By contrast, meiospore production in parthenosporophytes that fail to endoreduplicate occurs via a nonreductive apomeiotic event.
Our results highlight Ectocarpus’s reproductive and developmental plasticity and are consistent with previous work showing that its life cycle transitions are controlled by genetic mechanisms and are independent of ploidy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-121
Number of pages11
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number1
Early online date02 Jul 2010
Publication statusPublished - 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science
  • Physiology

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