Unlike animals, plants have no primordial germline. Instead, specialised meiotic cells (sporocytes), which are required for sexual reproduction, are derived de novo from subepidermal cells in the anthers and ovules. Sporocytes then undergo meiosis to form multicellular haploid gametophytes, but little is known about the control of meiotic progression in plants. Now, Reddy et al. identify DUET, a gene that is required for chromosome organisation and meiotic progression in Arabidopsis, and which encodes a putative plant homeo domain (PHD) finger protein (see p. 5975). They describe how the duet mutation causes male sterility, defective chromosome organisation and the arrest of male meiocytes at metaphase I. The duet mutation interacts genetically with the dyad mutation to produce very strong defects in male meiosis. DYAD is a gene required for female meiotic progression, and for chromosome cohesion during male and female meiosis. Further analysis of meiosis defective mutants should,say the researchers, provide information on chromosomal checkpoints in plants and indicate how these checkpoints compare with those in animals.