The Arabidopsis thaliana SOMATIC EMBRYOGENESIS RECEPTOR-LIKE KINASE (SERK) family of plasma membrane receptors consists of five closely related members. The SERK1 and SERK2 genes show a complex expression pattern throughout development. Both are expressed in anther primordia up to the second parietal division. After this point, expression ceases in the sporocytes and is continued in the tapetum and middle layer precursors. Single knockout mutants of SERK1 and SERK2 show no obvious phenotypes. Double mutants of SERK1 and SERK2 are completely male sterile due to a failure in tapetum specification. Fertility can be restored by a single copy of either gene. The SERK1 and SERK2 proteins can form homodimers or heterodimers in vivo, suggesting they are interchangeable in the SERK1/SERK2 signaling complex.