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We have developed methods, based on confocal microscopy and three-dimensional (3D) modelling, for the analysis of complex tissues and individual nuclei. These methods were used to study the development of early wheat (Triticum aestivum) endosperm as a whole and of endosperm nuclei undergoing polyploidization. Fixed sections of immature caryopses were either stained with SYTOX Green or used for fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) to visualize centromeres, telomeres and a rye chromosome arm substitution. Each section was imaged as a confocal image stack. By using Amira 3.0 for computer image processing, rendered models were produced of the whole endosperm and of individual nuclei. We followed endosperm development up to the formation of a complete syncytium, which develops via a dorsal and a ventral plate of nuclei in the central cell. Modelling of nuclei showed that wheat chromosomes are not anchored to the nuclear membrane and become more randomly positioned in endoreduplicated nuclei. This analysis produced a precise description of the positioning of nuclei throughout the developing endosperm and of chromosomal domains in single nuclei.

Original publication




Journal article


New Phytol

Publication Date





253 - 262


Chromosomes, Plant, Microscopy, Confocal, Models, Structural, Ploidies, Seeds, Triticum