Somatic embryogenesis (SE) is the ability of a vegetative cell to develop into an embryo, either naturally or in vitro (tissue culture). SE is an important plant breeding tool that provides an efficient method to clonally propagate plants. SE can be induced in vitro from different plant tissues by the synthetic hormone 2,4-D. Here we gained a better understanding of the molecular-genetic pathways that underly and are limiting for 2,4-D-induced SE in the model plant arabidopsis. The pathways uncovered here might also be relevant for efficient SE production in other species.
Embryos can also develop naturally in seeds or in tissue culture from unfertilized (haploid) sex cells. This is also an important tool for plant breeding, as true breeding lines can be generated in a single generation. We developed an efficient seed based haploid inducer system for arabidopsis by mutating arabidopsis DMP genes. This system holds great promise for seed-based haploid production in other dicot plant species.