J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2003, Vol. 45 ›› Issue (6): 712-723.

• Research Articles •

### Embryogenesis, Germination, Structure and Cotyledon Dimorphism of Zea mays Embryo

FENG Jiu-Huan, XU Xue-Bin, LIU Xiang-Dong, ZHANG Chong-Ling, LIANG Xiu-Lan, WU Wan-Chun

• Published:2003-06-15

Abstract:

A series of new cognitions on the morphogenesis of maize (Zea mays L.) embryo have been obtained with scanning electron microscopy and semi_thin section techniques. 1. The proembryo. The proembryo from zygotic cell divisions may be divided into three parts: proper, hypoblast and suspensor. The suspensor is short and small, and only exists transiently. As to the hypoblast there is a growth belt, which promotes elongation of the hypoblast. Eventually the upper portion of the hypoblast contributes to the formation of the coleorhiza and the remainder dries up, sticking to the end of the coleorhiza.  2. The maize embryo possesses dorsiventrality and cotyledon dimorphism. During early proembryo stage, the dorsiventrality appears in the proper of the embryo. On the ventral side, the cells are small with dense cytoplasm and few vacuoles. On the dorsal side, the cells are larger with lower cytoplasmic density and have more vacuoles. During later proembryo stage, the proper develops into two parts: the ventrum and the dorsum. The ventrum rises up from the center of the ventral side. The dorsum is composed of the marginal area of the ventral side and the whole dorsal side of the proper. During young embryo development, the ventrum differentiates into the coleoptile, apical meristem, hypocotyl, radicle and the main part of the coleorhiza. What is more important, the emergence of coleoptile primordium and radicular initials occur at the axis of the proper, then the coleoptile primordium expands from its two ends toward left and right to form a ring, and the endogenous radicular initials expand in all directions to form a conical radicular tip. All these morphogenetic activities of the ventrum follow a bilateral symmetrical pattern. The dorsum forms the scutellum primordium. Then the scutellum primordium expands rapidly toward the left, right, front and back, while thickening itself, so as to make all components originating from the ventrum become hidden in the longitudinal groove of the scutellum. Lastly, the left and right lateral scales emerge from the edges of the longitudinal groove and expand toward the central line of the axis. As a consequence, morphologically, the bilateral symmetry of the ventral side of the embryo is revealed entirely. Morphogenetically, the coleoptile primordium and apical meristem in maize are similar to the coleoptile (apical cotyledon) and apex formation of the rice embryo, so the coleoptile of the maize embryo can also be considered as an apical cotyledon. The scutellum is a lateral cotyledon. These dimorphic cotyledons of the maize embryo originate from the dorsiventrality of the proper.  3. The true morphological structure of the maize embryo is recognized and its developmental stages are established. A maize embryo is a hypocotyl, in which the apical part is the shoot apex (or plumule) with the coleoptile, the central part consists mainly of the hypocotyl with a lateral cotyledon (scutellum), and the basal part is the radicle with coleorhiza. The left and right lateral scales derived from the scutellum overlap at the ventral side, leaving only two little pores at both ends of the seam from which the coleoptile and coleorhiza can be seen. The four sequential stages of maize embryonic development are as follows: (1) proembryo stage. This stage covers a period from zygotic cell division to the appearance of the dorsum and ventrum. (2) ventrum rapid differentiation stage. (3) scutellum rapid expansion stage. (4) lateral scale development stage (or embryonic envelope formation stage). 4. To obtain a median longitudinal section perpendicular to the ventral surface is crucial for recognizing the genuine morphological structure of the maize embryo.

（1.华南农业大学植物分子育种研究中心，广州510642; 2.  华南农业大学生命科学学院，广州510642；
3. 华南农业大学农学院，广州510642）

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