From The Polyploidy Portal

Heterochromatin, small RNA and post-fertilization dysgenesis in allopolyploid and interploid hybrids of Arabidopsis

Martienssen RA.
New Phytol. 2010 Apr;186(1):46-53.

Abstract:
In many plants, including Arabidopsis, hybrids between species and subspecies encounter postfertilization barriers in which hybrid seed fail to develop, or else give rise to infertile progeny. In Arabidopsis, some of these barriers are sensitive to ploidy and to the epigenetic status of donor and recipient genomes. Recently, a role has been proposed for heterochromatin in reprogramming events that occur in reproductive cells, as well as in the embryo and endosperm after fertilization. 21 nt small interfering RNA (siRNA) from activated transposable elements accumulate in pollen, and are translocated from companion vegetative cells into the sperm, while in the maturing seed 24 nt siRNA are primarily maternal in origin. Thus maternal and paternal genomes likely contribute differing small RNA to the zygote and to the endosperm. As heterochromatic sequences also differ radically between, and within, species, small RNA sequences will diverge in hybrids. If transposable elements in the seed are not targeted by small RNA from the pollen, or vice versa, this could lead to hybrid seed failure, in a mechanism reminiscent of hybrid dysgenesis in Drosophila. Heterochromatin also plays a role in apomixis and nucleolar dominance, and may utilize a similar mechanism.[1]

  1. Martienssen RA (2010) Heterochromatin, small RNA and post-fertilization dysgenesis in allopolyploid and interploid hybrids of Arabidopsis. New Phytol 186: 46-53 PubMed
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