In many flowering plants, asymmetric division of the zygote generates apical and basal cells with different fates. In Arabidopsis thaliana, the apical cell generates the embryo while the basal cell divides anticlinally, leading to a suspensor of six to nine cells that remain extra-embryonic and eventually senesce. In some genetic backgrounds, or upon ablation of the embryo, suspensor cells can undergo periclinal cell divisions and eventually form a second twin embryo. Likewise, embryogenesis can be induced from somatic cells by various genes, but the relationship with suspensor-derived embryos is unclear. Here, we addressed the nature of the suspensor to embryo fate transformation and its genetic triggers. We expressed most known embryogenesis-inducing genes specifically in suspensor cells. We next analyzed morphology and fate-marker expression in embryos in which suspensor division was activated by different triggers to address the developmental paths towards reprogramming. Our results show that reprogramming of Arabidopsis suspensor cells towards embryonic identity is a specific cellular response that is triggered by defined regulators, follows a conserved developmental trajectory and shares similarity to the process of somatic embryogenesis from post-embryonic tissues.
- Plant embryogenesis