Dynamics of maize endosperm development and DNA endoreduplication

Liang Schweizer, G. L. Yerk-Davis, R. L. Phillips, F. Srienc, R. J. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Endosperm development in Zea mays is characterized by a period of intense mitotic activity followed by a period in which mitosis is essentially eliminated and the cell cycle becomes one of alternating S and G phases, leading to endoreduplication of the nuclear DNA. The endosperm represents a significant contribution to the grain yield of maize; thus, methods that facilitate the study of cellular kinetics may be useful in discerning cellular and molecular components of grain yield. Two mathematical models have been developed to describe the kinetics of endosperm growth. The first describes the kinetics of mitosis during endosperm development; the second describes the kinetics of DNA endoreduplication during endosperm development. The mitotic model is a modification of standard growth curves. The endoreduplication model is composed of six differential equations that represent the progression of nuclei from one DNA content to another during the endoreduplication process. Total nuclei number per endosperm and the number of 3C, 6C, 12C, 24C, 48C, and 96C nuclei per endosperm (C is the haploid DNA content per nucleus) for inbred W64A from 8 to 18 days after pollination were determined by flow cytometry. The results indicate that the change in number of nuclei expressed as a function of the number of days after pollination is the same from one yearly crop to another. These data were used in the model to determine the endosperm growth rate, the maximum nuclei number per endosperm, and transition rates from one C value to the next higher C value. The kinetics of endosperm development are reasonably well represented by the models. Thus, the models provide a means to quantify the complex pattern of endosperm development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7070-7074
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number15
StatePublished - Jul 18 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • flow cytometry
  • growth
  • mitosis
  • modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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