Molecular Control of Male Fertility for Crop Hybrid Breeding
In many plant species, male-sterile female lines with cytoplasmic male sterility (CMS) or nuclear-controlled environment-sensitive genic male sterility (EGMS) have long been used to efficiently produce hybrids that harness hybrid vigor or heterosis. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms for these applications have only recently been uncovered in a few species. We provide here an update on the understanding of cytoplasmic–nuclear communication based on the discovery of mitochondrial CMS genes and their corresponding nuclear fertility determinants. Recent findings that uncover diverse mechanisms such as epigenetic, transcriptional, and post-transcriptional controls of EGMS by temperature and photoperiod signals are also reviewed. Furthermore, translational research that applies basic knowledge of plant male fertility control to hybrid seed production practice is highlighted.