Gametic cells are those involved in sexual reproduction. In plants these include the sperm cells of the pollen (male) and the egg cells of the ovules (female). Gametic cells are haploid (n) having half the genetic constitution of the parent plant, the fusion of a sperm cell with an egg cell produces a new individual in which the diploid (2n) status is reconstituted. In gametic embryogenesis the development of gametic cells is diverted to produce embryos rather than mature pollen grains or ovules. In the case of microspores (cells destined to become pollen grains) there is potential to produce several hundred plants from a single anther. Induced or spontaneous doubling of the haploid cells produces doubled haploid (2n) plants.

image showing 4 petri dishes arrnaged in a squareThese are homozygous, true breeding, and are of vital importance in plant breeding either as parental lines or as finished cultivars (Table of DH cultivars -'Excel' file). Doubled haploidy is the fastest route to homozygosity and large numbers of plants can be produced, but not all homozygous lines are of interest. There is a need to select among the doubled haploid populations for individuals carrying desirable genetic constitutions. Genetic markers are used for this purpose, these can be used to tag specific genes e.g. disease resistance genes, and to examine the genetic background of lines for selection purposes.

COST Action 851 was set up in November 2001 and runs for five years, it has three Working Groups:

  1. Technology advancement for gametic embryogenesis.
  2. Functional genomics of gametic embryogenesis.
  3. Deployment of gametic embryogenesis in crop improvement.

Click here for Mid-term report

Click here for a Powerpoint slide show of COST Action 851 activities. (warning 91mb .zip file)

For general information on COST Actions please access the European Commission web site