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DNA methylation of tapetum cells during microsporogenesis in Malus domestica Borkh.

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Anther tapetum of Malus domestica Borkh. is a unilayered tissue; its cells have a short lifespan, become senescent, and die by autolysis in the interval between free microspore and bicellular pollen stages. During differentiation, tapetum cells show DNA endoreduplication that produces either a polyploid nucleus in uninucleate cells or multinucleate cells. A study of DNA methylation, related to DNA content per cell during tapetum differentiation, showed: (1) the highest level of DNA methylation occurs at the meiotic prophase stage; (2) the lowest level, at the tetrad stage; (3) a de novo DNA methylation occurs at the free microspore stage; (4) the pattern of DNA methylation distribution is stage specific. The data are discussed in relation to plant senescence and animal ageing.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Botanical Sciences, University of Pisa ; 2: Department of Botanical Sciences, University of Pisa


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