DNA endoreduplication in maize endosperm cells: The effect of exposure to short-term high temperature

G. Engelen-Eigles, R. J. Jones, R. L. Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


DNA endoreduplication in Zea mays L. (cv. A619 x W64A) endosperm peaks between 16 and 18 d after pollination (DAP). The physiological function of DNA endoreduplication is not known but it is believed to be important in maize kernel development. In the present study, we investigated how 2, 4 or 6 d of high temperature (35 °C) affected DNA endureduplication and maize kernel development in comparison with control kernels grown at 25 °C. Data were collected on fresh weight (FW), nuclei number, mitotic index, and DNA endureduplication. Maize endosperm FW and nuclei number were reduced by exposure to 4 or 6 d of high temperature. At 18 DAP, the 2 d high temperature treatment (HTT) caused a reduction in FW and nuclei number, but had no effect on DNA endoreduplication and average DNA content per endosperm. However, when the exposure to high temperature was increased to 4 or 6 d, FW, nuclei number and the magnitude of DNA endoreduplication were progressively reduced, and the peak mitotic index was delayed compared with the control endosperm. At 18 DAP, the 4 d treatment showed 54.7% of the cells were 3 or 6 C, whereas only 41.2% were 12 C or higher. Six days of high temperature also resulted in a reduction in endosperm FW, nuclei number and a delay in the peak of mitotic index. DNA endureduplication occurred in the kernels exposed to this treatment, although the magnitude was severely reduced compared with the control kernels. Nuclear DNA content was highly correlated (r = 0.93) with kernel FW, suggesting an important role of DNA endoreduplication in determining endosperm FW. The data suggest that high temperature during endosperm cell division exerted negative effects on DNA endoreduplication by dramatically reducing the nuclei number, leaving fewer nuclei available for DNA endureduplication. However, the data also suggest that prolonged exposure to high temperature restricts entry of mitotic cells into the endureduplication phase of the cell cycle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)657-663
Number of pages7
JournalPlant, Cell and Environment
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • DNA endoreduplication
  • Flow cytometry
  • High temperature
  • Maize kernel development
  • Mitotic index
  • Zea mays L.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science

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