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    Pollen germination is an essential step towards successful pollination during maize reproduction. How low niutrogen (N) affects pollen germination remains an interesting biological question to be addressed. We found that only low N resulted in a significantly lower germination rate of pollen grains after 4 weeks of low N, phosphorus or potassium treatment in maize production. Importantly, cytological analysis showed 7-fold more micronuclei in male meiocytes under the low N treatment than in the control, indicating that the lower germination rate of pollen grains was partially due to numerous chromosome loss events resulting from preceding meiosis. The appearance of 10 bivalents in the control and low N cells at diakinesis suggested that chromosome pairing and recombination in meiosis I was not affected by low N. Further gene expression analysis revealed dramatic down-regulation of Nuclear Division Cycle 80 (Ndc80) and Regulator of Chromosome Condensation 1 (Rcc1-1) expression and up-regulation of Cell Division Cycle 20 (Cdc20-1) expression, although no significant difference in the expression level of kinetochore foundation proteins Centromeric Histone H3 (Cenh3) and Centromere Protein C (Cenpc) and cohesion regulators Recombination 8 (Rec8) and Shugoshin (Sgo1) was observed. Aberrant modulation of three key meiotic regulators presumably resulted in a high likelihood of erroneous chromosome segregation, as testified by pronounced lagging chromosomes at anaphase I or cell cycle disruption at meiosis II. Thus, we proposed a cytogenetic mechanism whereby low N affects male meiosis and causes a higher chromosome loss frequency and eventually a lower germination rate of pollen grains in a staple crop plant. © The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Japanese Society of Plant Physiologists. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email:


    Hongyan Zheng, Huamao Wu, Xiaoying Pan, Weiwei Jin, Xuexian Li. Aberrant Meiotic Modulation Partially Contributes to the Lower Germination Rate of Pollen Grains in Maize (Zea mays L.) Under Low Nitrogen Supply. Plant & cell physiology. 2017 Feb 01;58(2):342-353

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    PMID: 28007967

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