Apomixis Project


Apomixis (Egg Apparatus-Specific Enhancer) – Molecular Apomixis Overview

Clonal reproduction of plants via seed production that doesn’t require pollen, known as apomixis, has the potential to change plant breeding technology in a way that returns empowerment to farmers and breeders.

CAMBIA’s interest in apomixis is that it would allow perpetuation of the high yield gains from particular hybrids. This could provide the farmer with greater autonomy and choice in planting future generations and enable capture of the advantages of superior cultivars adapted to local conditions. Additionally, stock production of potatoes, cassava and other important vegetatively-propagated crops through disease-free, true breeding seed could facilitate international trade of improved varieties, and finding new markets and new growing environments (Jefferson R A, 1994, Apomixis: A social revolution for agriculture?, in Biotechnology and Development Monitor 19:14-16; Jefferson R A, Bicknell R, 1996, The potential impacts of apomixis: A molecular genetics approach, in The Impact of Plant Molecular Genetics. B.W.S. Sobral, ed., pp. 87-101, Birkhäuser, Boston)

To achieve such a dramatic impact in a way that is both environmentally sound and socially equitable we need to ensure that apomixis technologies are readily accessible by all. To find out more about apomixis, its uses and social implications, read the Bellagio Agreement.

An analysis of Genetic Use Restriction Technologies was the first U.N.-sponsored intellectual property and technical analysis of “Terminator” technologies, which sterilize or reduce the agronomic value of second generation seed. The full paper and background information on the meeting where this paper was tabled is available on the UN Convention on Biological Diversity site.

Because plant sexual reproduction is a complex pathway where many redundancies would be expected, there are a variety of different approaches to apomixis. Check this page for new links to additional material, and please take part in our Forum if you know of research findings in this area that would be of interest to other users of the BioForge.

Papers disclosing an Egg Apparatus-Specific Enhancer (EASE) have been recently published: Yang W, Jefferson R A, Huttner E, Moore J M, Gagliano W B, Grossniklaus U (2005) An Egg Apparatus-Specific Enhancer of Arabidopsis, Identified by Enhancer Detection, Plant Physiology 139:1421-1432. Download this paper. See also Brand L, Hörler M, Nüesch E, Vassalli S, Barrell P, Yang W, Jefferson RA, Grossniklaus U, Curtis MD. (2006) A Versatile and Reliable Two-component System for Tissue-specific Gene Induction in ArabidopsisPlant Physiology 141:1194-1204 (abstract on Medline). Vectors containing the EASE will soon be available from CAMBIA under a BiOS License. Read more about EASE.

Additional CAMBIA-based work on DNA sequences that could be useful in apomixis research has been documented in the Ph.D. thesis of Satya Nugroho.