Standard Article


  1. Yuefeng Guan1,
  2. Leonor Boavida1,
  3. Sheila McCormick2

Published Online: 15 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0002037.pub2



How to Cite

Guan, Y., Boavida, L. and McCormick, S. 2010. Gametogenesis. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. 1

    University of California-Berkeley, California, USA

  2. 2

    Plant Gene Expression Center, USDA/ARS, Albany, CA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JAN 2010


Gametogenesis is the process of gamete formation, which includes micro- and megagametogenesis. Gametogenesis initiates after specialized cells in the sporophyte undergo meiosis, and subsequent mitotic divisions yield the gametophytic phase of the plant life cycle. In higher plants, microgametogenesis occurs in the anther, producing tricellular pollen with two sperm cells within a vegetative cell. Megagametogenesis occurs in the ovule, producing an embryo sac. The male gametes, the two sperm cells, and the female gametes, the egg and central cell, fuse to yield the zygote and the endosperm, respectively. Both micro- and megagametogenesis are under strict genetic control. Studies of gametophytic mutants have identified genes important for gametogenesis. Furthermore, high-throughput expression profiling techniques have helped identify gene regulatory networks that operate during gametogenesis.

Key concepts:

  • Plant life cycles alternate between sporophyte and gametophyte generations.

  • Meiosis produces spores which then undergo gametogenesis.

  • Higher plants produce two types of gametes, sperm cells in microgametophytes and egg cell and central cell in megagametophytes.

  • The male and female gametes fuse and give rise to the zygote and to the endosperm.

  • Identification of gametophytic mutants showed that gametogenesis is under strict genetic control.

  • Expression profiling studies provided further insight into the gene regulation of gametogenesis and identified new gametophytic genes.


  • pollen;
  • embryo sac;
  • egg;
  • sperm;
  • central cell