A new opening for wheat seed production

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Crop plant domestication has targeted a variety of traits, including synchronous development of ovules and stamens to maximize fertilization and seed production. In wheat, with its autogamous, or self-fertilizing, flowers, this is very attractive for guaranteeing yield but extremely frustrating for a researcher trying to cross individuals of distinct genotypes, and even more so for a breeder trying to generate hybrids. Now, Okada et al. (2017) have provided a turning point by characterizing the developmental physiology of wheat florets opening after a few days post-anthesis (‘second opening’). This additional opportunity for pollination facilitates out-crossing, and provides a method to further understand the regulation of wheat flower architecture and development.