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Crop Biotech Update

New Study Unravels Chloroplast Inheritance in Wheat

February 3, 2016

A new study conducted by scientists at Rothamsted Research and colleagues at the University of Manchester using high-resolution imaging during wheat sperm cell development reveals the way that chloroplasts are passed from one generation to another via only the maternal parent.

Chloroplasts are structures in plant cells that perform photosynthesis and mature from small precursors called plastids. Wheat, like many other plants, inherit their chloroplasts only from their mother. However, the mechanism that leads to this was not known. The research team labeled plastids in wheat with a green fluorescent protein (GFP) and observed them in developing pollen grains. They show for the first time that plastids are degraded in mature sperm cells just prior to fertilization.

Dr. Anil Day from the University of Manchester said, "We have shown that plastids are actually degraded in mature sperm cells just prior to fertilization rather than simply being stripped away with the rest of the cytoplasm."

Read the news release at Rothamsted Research for more information.