Novel features of Brassica napus embryogenic microspores revealed by high pressure freezing and freeze substitution: evidence for massive autophagy and excretion-based cytoplasmic cleaning

Autores UPV
Revista Journal of Experimental Botany


Induction of embryogenesis from isolated microspore cultures is a complex experimental system where microspores undergo dramatic changes in developmental fate. After ~40 years of application of electron microscopy to the study of the ultrastructural changes undergone by the induced microspore, there is still room for new discoveries. In this work, high pressure freezing and freeze substitution (HPF/FS), the best procedures known to date for ultrastructural preservation, were used to process Brassica napus microspore cultures covering all the stages of microspore embryogenesis. Analysis of these cultures by electron microscopy revealed massive processes of autophagy exclusively in embryogenic microspores, but not in other microspore-derived structures also present in cultures. However, a significant part of the autophagosomal cargo was not recycled. Instead, it was transported out of the cell, producing numerous deposits of extracytoplasmic fibrillar and membranous material. It was shown that commitment of microspores to embryogenesis is associated with both massive autophagy and excretion of the removed material. It is hypothesized that autophagy would be related to the need for a profound cytoplasmic cleaning, and excretion would be a mechanism to avoid excessive growth of the vacuolar system. Together, the results also demonstrate that the application of HPF/FS to the study of the androgenic switch is the best option currently available to identify the complex and dramatic ultrastructural changes undergone by the induced microspore. In addition, they provide significant insights to understand the cellular basis of induction of microspore embryogenesis, and open a new door for the investigation of this intriguing developmental pathway.