Seeds are a major resource of food supply around the world and their production depends on successful double fertilization during plant sexual reproduction. In higher plants, fertilization of female gametophytes involves fusion of two pollen tube-delivered sperm cells with the egg proper and the central nuclei, giving rise to the embryo and the endosperm, respectively. Double fertilization and functional specialization of the male gametophyte are two essential factors driving the evolutionary success of angiosperms. Understanding the functions of genes involved in pollen development (microsporogenesis and microgametogenesis) and tube elongation (pollination) can provide new insights into the regulatory elements that control male germline identity and male molecules involved in the interaction with the female partner during fertilization, aspects that are crucial for plant breeding. Additionally, a better understanding of the cellular and molecular factors governing the development and release of the sperm cells from pollen tubes can have a great impact on strategies for crop improvement. In this review, we discuss recent progresses and advances in aspects of microsporogenesis and microgametogenesis, such as microspore meiosis, mitosis, cell cycle regulation, and pollen tube guidance that have implications for crop improvement.
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