Category : 12th Class

Endosperm is the nutritive tissue for the developing embryo and also the seedling. In angiosperms, the endosperm develops from triploid (3n) primary endosperm nucleus which is formed as a result of vegetative fertilization, triple fusion or fusion of a male gamete with secondary nucleus of the central cell.

(1) Types of endosperm : On the basis of development, endosperm are of three types :

(i) Nuclear endosperm : In the nuclear type of endosperm development, the primary endosperm nucleus divides by repeated mitotic free nuclear divisions without the formation of walls. It results in the formation of a large number of free nuclei in the central cell of the embryo sac. A big central vacuole develops in the embryo sac pushing all the nuclei to the peripheral cytoplasm. Finally cell wall formation takes place from the periphery of the embryo sac towards the centre leading to the formation of cellular endosperm tissue. In Coconut, the endosperm is multicellular in the outer part and free nuclear in the centre. Nuclear endosperm is the most common type of endosperm and mostly found in polypetalae. e.g., Cotton, Zeamays, Capsella etc.

(ii) Cellular endosperm : In the cellular type of endosperm development, the first nuclear division of the primary endosperm nucleus is immediately followed by the wall formation. The first division results in the formation of two equal sized chambers : chalazal and micropylar chambers. The subsequent divisions are followed by regular cell wall formation. This type of endosperm formation is common in gamopetalae. e.g., Petunia, Datura.

(iii) Helobial endosperm : In the helobial type of endosperm development, the endosperm is intermediate between cellular and nuclear types. The division of primary endosperm nucleus is followed by wall formation and as a result two chambers : micropylar and chalazal chambers, are formed. Generally the chalazal cell does not divide further and function as haustorium. Nucleus of the large micropylar cell divides by repeated free nuclear divisions and further development takes place in the same way as the nuclear endosperm. Helobial type of endosperm development is prevalent in monocotyledons. e.g., Erumurus.

(2) Some terms related to endosperm

(i) Ruminate endosperm : Mature endosperm with irregularity and unevenness in its surface is called ruminate endosperm. Rumination is caused by the activity of seed coat or by the endosperm itself. It is found in about 32 families of angiosperm. e.g., Annonaceae, Palmae, Myristicaceae, etc.

(ii) Mosaic endosperm : In some cases, the tissue of endosperm is not homogeneous but there are patches of different colours. Such type of endosperm is called mosaic endosperm and was observed by Webber (1990) in Zea mays. In maize endosperm, red and white patches appear irregularly distributed. In Petunia and Tomato, endosperm shows two types of tissues – some consisting of diploid cells and some triploid cells. These two types of cells intermix to form mosiac.

(iii) Xenia : The effect of pollen on endosperm is called xenia. This term was given by Focke (1881). e.g., Maize.

(iv) Metaxenia : The effect of pollen on somatic tissue lying outside the endosperm is known as metaxenia. Metaxenia term given by the swingle (1928). e.g., Datepalm.

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