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Meiosis is essential for eukaryotic sexual reproduction and important for genetic diversity among individuals. Efforts during the last decade in Arabidopsis have greatly expanded our understanding of the molecular basis of plant meiosis, which has traditionally provided much information about the cytological description of meiosis. Through both forward genetic analysis of mutants with reduced fertility and reverse genetic studies of homologs of known meiotic genes, we now have a basic knowledge about genes important for meiotic recombination and its relationship to pairing and synapsis, critical processes that ensure proper homolog segregation. In addition, several genes affecting meiotic progression, spindle assembly, chromosome separation, and meiotic cytokinesis have also been uncovered and characterized. It is worth noting that Arabidopsis molecular genetic studies are also revealing secrets of meiosis that have not yet been recognized elsewhere among eukaryotes, including gene functions that might be unique to plants and those that are potentially shared with animals and fungi. As we enter the post-genomics era of plant biology, there is no doubt that the next ten years will see an even greater number of discoveries in this important area of plant development and cell biology.
Abbreviations: DAPI, 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole; DSB, double strand break; DSBR, double strand break repair; SC, synaptonemal complex; TEM, transmission electron microscopy