In contrast to animals, plant germ cells develop in few-celled haploid structures, termed gametophytes. The fate of the female gametophytic cells could hardly be more different: Whereas the egg and the central cell get fertilized to found a new generation, the flanking accessory cells (synergids and antipodals) are doomed to die. How are the distinct cell types specified and what mechanisms regulate cellular lifespan? Making use of forward genetics, the laboratory of Dr. Gross-Hardt has isolated mutants with supernumerary egg cells as well as mutants where programmed cell death (PCD) of accessory cells is repressed. Their results point towards an important role of female gametes as signaling centers for the development of female gametophytic cells.