We recently identified a new component of flavonoid transport pathways in Arabidopsis. The MATE protein FFT (Flower Flavonoid Transporter) is primarily found in guard cells and seedling roots, and mutation of the transporter results in floral and growth phenotypes. The nature of FFT's substrate requires further exploration but our data suggest that it is a kaempferol diglucoside. Here we discuss potential partner H+-ATPases and possible redundancy among the close homologs within the large Arabidopsis MATE family.
auxin; flavonoid; guard cell; pollen; transporter
The coordinated activity of different flavonoid biosynthesis genes in Arabidopsis thaliana results in tissue-specific accumulation of flavonols, anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins (PAs). These compounds possess diverse functions in plants including light-attenuation and oxidative stress protection. Flavonoids accumulate in a stimulus- and/or development-dependent manner in specific parts of the plant. PAs accumulate in the seed coat (testa).
We describe the biological material and the preparation of total RNA for the AtGenExpress developmental silique and seed series. AtGenExpress ATH1 GeneChip expression data from the different stages were reanalyzed and verified using quantitative real time PCR (qPCR). We observed organ-specific transcript accumulation of specific flavonoid biosynthetic genes consistent with previously published data and our PA compound accumulation data. In addition, we investigated the regulation of PA accumulation in developing A. thaliana seeds by correlating gene expression patterns of specific flavonoid biosynthesis genes with different seed embryonic developmental stages and organs and present two useful marker genes for isolated valve and replum organs, as well as one seed-specific marker.
Potential caveats of array-based expression data are discussed based on comparisons with qPCR data. Results from ATH1 microarray and qPCR experiments revealed a shift in gene activity from general flavonoid biosynthesis at early stages of seed development to PA synthesis at late (mature) stages of embryogenesis. The examined PA accumulation-associated genes, including biosynthetic and regulatory genes, were found to be exclusively expressed in immature seeds. Accumulation of PAs initiates at the early heart stage of silique and seed development. Our findings provide new insights for further studies targeting the PA pathway in seeds.
Flavonoids are low molecular weight secondary plant metabolites with a myriad of functions. As flavonoids affect auxin transport (an important growth-controlling hormone) and are biologically active in eukaryotes, flavonoid mutants were expected to have undescribed architectural phenotypes. The Arabidopsis thaliana transparent testa (tt) mutants are compromised in the enzymatic steps or transcriptional regulators affecting flavonoid synthesis. tt mutant seedlings were grown on hard-slanted agar (a stress condition), under varying light conditions, and in soil to examine the resulting growth patterns. These tt mutants revealed a wide variety of architectural phenotypes in root and aerial tissues. Mutants with increased inflorescences, siliques, and lateral root density or reduced stature are traits that could affect plant yield or performance under certain environmental conditions. The regulatory genes affected in architectural traits may provide useful molecular targets for examination in other plants.
Aglycone; Arabidopsis; auxin; ethylene; flavonoid; plant architecture
For self-pollinating plants to reproduce, male and female organ development must be coordinated as flowers mature. The Arabidopsis transcription factors AUXIN RESPONSE FACTOR 6 (ARF6) and ARF8 regulate this complex process by promoting petal expansion, stamen filament elongation, anther dehiscence, and gynoecium maturation, thereby ensuring that pollen released from the anthers is deposited on the stigma of a receptive gynoecium. ARF6 and ARF8 induce jasmonate production, which in turn triggers expression of MYB21 and MYB24, encoding R2R3 MYB transcription factors that promote petal and stamen growth. To understand the dynamics of this flower maturation regulatory network, we have characterized morphological, chemical, and global gene expression phenotypes of arf, myb, and jasmonate pathway mutant flowers. We found that MYB21 and MYB24 promoted not only petal and stamen development but also gynoecium growth. As well as regulating reproductive competence, both the ARF and MYB factors promoted nectary development or function and volatile sesquiterpene production, which may attract insect pollinators and/or repel pathogens. Mutants lacking jasmonate synthesis or response had decreased MYB21 expression and stamen and petal growth at the stage when flowers normally open, but had increased MYB21 expression in petals of older flowers, resulting in renewed and persistent petal expansion at later stages. Both auxin response and jasmonate synthesis promoted positive feedbacks that may ensure rapid petal and stamen growth as flowers open. MYB21 also fed back negatively on expression of jasmonate biosynthesis pathway genes to decrease flower jasmonate level, which correlated with termination of growth after flowers have opened. These dynamic feedbacks may promote timely, coordinated, and transient growth of flower organs.
Perfect flowers have both male organs that produce and release pollen and female organs that make and harbor seeds. Flowers also often attract pollinators using visual or chemical signals. So that male, female, and pollinator attraction functions occur at the right time, flower organs must grow and mature in a coordinated fashion. In the model self-pollinating plant Arabidopsis, a transcriptional network regulates genes that ensure coordinated growth of different flower organs, as well as pollen release and gynoecium (female) competence to support pollination. This network also regulates nectary development and production of volatile chemicals that may attract or repel insects. We have studied growth, chemical signal levels, and gene expression in mutants affected in components of this network, in order to determine how flower growth is controlled. Several plant hormones act in a cascade that promotes flower maturation. Moreover, regulatory feedback loops affect the timing and extent of developmental steps. Positive feedbacks may ensure that the development of different flower organs is coordinated and rapid, whereas negative feedbacks may allow growth to cease once flowers have opened. Our results provide a framework to understand how flower opening and reproduction are coordinated in Arabidopsis and other flowering plants.
Arabidopsis has three cytokinin receptors genes: CRE1, AHK2 and AHK3. Availability of plants that are homozygous mutant for these three genes indicates that cytokinin receptors in the haploid cells are dispensable for the development of male and female gametophytes. The triple mutants form a few flowers but never set seed, indicating that reproductive growth is impaired. We investigated which reproductive processes are affected in the triple mutants. Anthers of mutant plants contained fewer pollen grains and did not dehisce. Pollen in the anthers completed the formation of the one vegetative nucleus and the two sperm nuclei, as seen in wild type. The majority of the ovules were abnormal: 78% lacked the embryo sac, 10% carried a female gametophyte that terminated its development before completing three rounds of nuclear division, and about 12% completed three rounds of nuclear division but the gametophytes were smaller than those of the wild type. Reciprocal crosses between the wild type and the triple mutants indicated that pollen from mutant plants did not germinate on wild-type stigmas, and wild-type pollen did not germinate on mutant stigmas. These results suggest that cytokinin receptors in the sporophyte are indispensable for anther dehiscence, pollen maturation, induction of pollen germination by the stigma and female gametophyte formation and maturation.
cytokinin; cytokinin receptor; female gametophyte; male gametophyte; stigma
The genes MYB11, MYB12 and MYB111 share significant structural similarity and form subgroup 7 of the Arabidopsis thaliana R2R3-MYB gene family. To determine the regulatory potential of these three transcription factors, we used a combination of genetic, functional genomics and metabolite analysis approaches. MYB11, MYB12 and MYB111 show a high degree of functional similarity and display very similar target gene specificity for several genes of flavonoid biosynthesis, including CHALCONE SYNTHASE, CHALCONE ISOMERASE, FLAVANONE 3-HYDROXYLASE and FLAVONOL SYNTHASE1. Seedlings of the triple mutant myb11 myb12 myb111, which genetically lack a complete subgroup of R2R3-MYB genes, do not form flavonols while the accumulation of anthocyanins is not affected. In developing seedlings, MYB11, MYB12 and MYB111 act in an additive manner due to their differential spatial activity; MYB12 controls flavonol biosynthesis mainly in the root, while MYB111 controls flavonol biosynthesis primarily in cotyledons. We identified and confirmed additional target genes of the R2R3-MYB subgroup 7 factors, including the UDP-glycosyltransferases UGT91A1 and UGT84A1, and we demonstrate that the accumulation of distinct and structurally identified flavonol glycosides in seedlings correlates with the expression domains of the different R2R3-MYB factors. Therefore, we refer to these genes as PFG1–3 for ‘PRODUCTION OF FLAVONOL GLYCOSIDES’.
flavonoid biosynthesis; R2R3-MYB; PRODUCTION OF FLAVONOL GLYCOSIDES; gene regulation; Arabidopsis
Due to the spatial separation between male and female pollen grains from the anther of most flowering plants, including orchids, pollens are transported by wind or animals and deposited onto the receptive surface of the stigma of a different plant. However, self-pollination is common in pollinating animal-scarce habitats. In such habitats, self-pollinations require the assistance of a pollinating agent (e.g., wind, gravity, or floral assembly) to transport the pollen grains from the anther onto its own stigma.
Based on observations on floral morphology and flowering phenology, tests of the breeding system, and a comparison of pollination mechanisms, a new self-pollination process was discovered in the hermaphroditic (i.e., possessing spatially separated male and female organs) flower of a slipper orchid, Paphiopedilum parishii. The anther changes from a solid to a liquid state and directly steps onto the stigma surface without the aid of any pollinating agent or floral assembly.
The mode of self-pollination discussed here is a new addition to the broad range of genetic and morphological mechanisms that have evolved in flowering plants to ensure their reproductive success. The present self-contained pollination mechanism is a possible adaptation to the insect-scarce habitat of the orchid.
Background and Aims
The period between the beginning of anthesis and flower senescence modulates the transport of pollen by pollinators among conspecific flowers, and its length may therefore influence reproductive success. This study evaluated whether floral longevity favours pollen removal from the anthers over fecundity (seed set) in an ornithophilous species that does not undergo pollen limitation.
Field investigations were conducted on floral longevity, nectar production, pollinator behaviour, and variations in fruit set (FS), mean number of seeds per fruit (MSF) and pollen removal by hummingbirds (PR) during the anthesis of Salvia sellowiana in south-east Brazil.
Anthesis of flowers exposed to pollinators lasted 4 d, as well as on flowers with pollen removed from the anthers or deposited on the stigma. The longevity of bagged flowers was significantly higher (approx. 9 d). FS and PR reached 87·2 and 90 %, respectively, in natural conditions. PR increased gradually over the period of anthesis; however, FS and MSF reached their maxima in the first hours of anthesis. Nectar production was continuous, but the secretion rate was reduced after pollination. The removal of nectar from non-pollinated flowers stimulated its production.
The longevity of anthesis in S. sellowiana seems to be related to the mechanism of gradual dispensing of pollen, resulting in greater male reproductive success. This is in agreement with the pollen-donation hypothesis. The small number of ovules (four) of S. sellowiana and the high frequency and the foraging mode of its pollinators may favour the selection for floral longevity driven by male fitness in this system.
Atlantic Forest; breeding system; female reproductive success; Lamiaceae; male reproductive success; microevolution; phenotypic selection; pollen presentation; pollination biology; traplining
Anthocyanins, flavan-3-ols, and flavonols are the three major classes of flavonoid compounds found in grape berry tissues. Several viticultural practices increase flavonoid content in the fruit, but the underlying genetic mechanisms responsible for these changes have not been completely deciphered. The impact of post-veraison sunlight exposure on anthocyanin and flavonol accumulation in grape berry skin and its relation to the expression of different transcriptional regulators known to be involved in flavonoid synthesis was studied. Treatments consisting of removing or moving aside the basal leaves which shade berry clusters were applied. Shading did not affect sugar accumulation or gene expression of HEXOSE TRANSPORTER 1, although in the leaf removal treatment, these events were retarded during the first weeks of ripening. Flavonols were the most drastically reduced flavonoids following shading and leaf removal treatments, related to the reduced expression of FLAVONOL SYNTHASE 4 and its putative transcriptional regulator MYB12. Anthocyanin accumulation and the expression of CHS2, LDOX, OMT, UFGT, MYBA1, and MYB5a genes were also affected. Other regulatory genes were less affected or not affected at all by these treatments. Non-transcriptional control mechanisms for flavonoid synthesis are also suggested, especially during the initial stages of ripening. Although berries from the leaf removal treatment received more light than shaded fruits, malvidin-3-glucoside and total flavonol content was reduced compared with the treatment without leaf removal. This work reveals that flavonol-related gene expression responds rapidly to field changes in light levels, as shown by the treatment in which shaded fruits were exposed to light in the late stages of ripening. Taken together, this study establishes MYB-specific responsiveness for the effect of sun exposure and sugar transport on flavonoid synthesis.
bHLH; flavonoids; grape; leaf removal; MYB12; PAR; sugar; source; sink; WDR
Background and Aims
Anther appendages play diverse roles in anther dehiscence and pollen dispersal. This study aims to explore the pollen-dispensing mechanism triggered by special anther appendages in Incarvillea arguta.
Field studies were conducted to record floral characteristics, pollinator visitations, and flower–pollinator interactions. Measurements of flowers and pollinators were analysed statistically. Pollen counts following a series of floral manipulations were used to evaluate pollen dispensing efficiency and function of the anther appendages.
Field observations determined that two species of Bombus (bumble-bees) were the primary pollinators of I. arguta with a mean visiting frequency of 1·42 visitations per flower h−1. The results display a diminishing pollen dispensing pattern; the proportion of remaining pollen removed by pollinators decreased from 27 % to 10 % and 7 % in subsequent visits. Anther appendages act as a trigger mechanism to dispense pollen. The arrangement of the anthers and appendages function to control pollen load and timing. Mechanical stimulation experiments revealed that one set of appendages is only triggered by stimulation in the direction moving into the flower, while the other set is only triggered by stimulation in the opposite direction (exiting the flower).
The anther appendage is a pollen-dispensing trigger mechanism. The configuration of the stamens and duel trigger system has evolved to allocate pollen in allotments to enhance male function.
Incarvillea arguta; anther appendage; pollination biology; Bignoniaceae; stamen morphology; pollen dispensing
Background and Aims
Pollen-collecting bees are among the most important pollinators globally, but are also the most common pollen thieves and can significantly reduce plant reproduction. The pollination efficiency of pollen collectors depends on the frequency of their visits to female(-phase) flowers, contact with stigmas and deposition of pollen of sufficient quantity and quality to fertilize ovules. Here we investigate the relative importance of these components, and the hypothesis that floral and inflorescence characteristics mediate the pollination role of pollen collection by bees.
For ten Aloe species that differ extensively in floral and inflorescence traits, we experimentally excluded potential bird pollinators to quantify the contributions of insect visitors to pollen removal, pollen deposition and seed production. We measured corolla width and depth to determine nectar accessibility, and the phenology of anther dehiscence and stigma receptivity to quantify herkogamy and dichogamy. Further, we compiled all published bird-exclusion studies of aloes, and compared insect pollination success with floral morphology.
Species varied from exclusively insect pollinated, to exclusively bird pollinated but subject to extensive pollen theft by insects. Nectar inaccessibility and strong dichogamy inhibited pollination by pollen-collecting bees by discouraging visits to female-phase (i.e. pollenless) flowers. For species with large inflorescences of pollen-rich flowers, pollen collectors successfully deposited pollen, but of such low quality (probably self-pollen) that they made almost no contribution to seed set. Indeed, considering all published bird-exclusion studies (17 species in total), insect pollination efficiency varied significantly with floral shape.
Species-specific floral and inflorescence characteristics, especially nectar accessibility and dichogamy, control the efficiency of pollen-collecting bees as pollinators of aloes.
Pollen theft; pollination efficiency; dichogamy; floral morphology; Aloe; Alooideae; Xanthorrhoeaceae; Asphodeloideae
Flavonoids are one of the major plant pigments for flower colour. Not only coloured anthocyanins, but also co-pigment flavones or flavonols, accumulate in flowers. To study the regulation of early flavonoid biosynthesis, two R2R3-MYB transcription factors, GtMYBP3 and GtMYBP4, were identified from the petals of Japanese gentian (Gentiana triflora). Phylogenetic analysis showed that these two proteins belong to the subgroup 7 clade (flavonol-specific MYB), which includes Arabidopsis AtMYB12, grapevine VvMYBF1, and tomato SlMYB12. Gt
MYBP3 and Gt
MYBP4 transcripts were detected specifically in young petals and correlated with the profiles of flavone accumulation. Transient expression assays showed that GtMYBP3 and GtMYBP4 enhanced the promoter activities of early biosynthetic genes, including flavone synthase II (FNSII) and flavonoid 3′-hydroxylase (F3′H), but not the late biosynthetic gene, flavonoid 3′,5′-hydroxylase (F3′5′H). GtMYBP3 also enhanced the promoter activity of the chalcone synthase (CHS) gene. In transgenic Arabidopsis, overexpression of Gt
MYBP3 and Gt
MYBP4 activated the expression of endogenous flavonol biosynthesis genes and led to increased flavonol accumulation in seedlings. In transgenic tobacco petals, overexpression of Gt
MYBP3 and Gt
MYBP4 caused decreased anthocyanin levels, resulting in pale flower colours. Gt
MYBP4-expressing transgenic tobacco flowers also showed increased flavonols. As far as is known, this is the first functional characterization of R2R3-MYB transcription factors regulating early flavonoid biosynthesis in petals.
Early flavonoid biosynthesis; flavone; flower colour; Japanese gentian; R2R3-MYB; transcription factor
Background and Aims
Self-pollination dominates in wheat, with a small level of out-crossing due to flowering asynchrony and male sterility. However, the timing and synchrony of male and female flowering in wheat is a crucial determinant of seed set and may be an important factor affecting gene flow and resilience to climate change. Here, a methodology is presented for assessing the timing and synchrony of flowering in wheat, Triticum aestivum.
From the onset of flowering until the end of anthesis, the anther and stigma activity of each floret was assessed on the first five developing ears in potted plants grown under ambient conditions and originating from ‘Paragon’ or ‘Spark-Rialto’ backgrounds. At harvest maturity, seed presence, size and weight was recorded for each floret scored.
Key Results and Conclusions
The synchrony between pollen dehiscence and stigma collapse within a flower was dependent on its relative position in a spike and within a floret. Determined on the basis of synchrony within each flower, the level of pollination by pollen originating from other flowers reached approx. 30 % and did not change throughout the duration of flowering. A modelling exercise parameterized by flowering observations indicated that the temporal and spatial variability of anther activity within and between spikes may influence the relative resilience of wheat to sudden, extreme climatic events which has direct relevance to predicted future climate scenarios in the UK.
Wheat; Triticum aestivum; flowering synchrony; pollination; climate change; heat resistance
Many flowering plants produce bicellular pollen. The two cells of the pollen grain are destined for separate fates in the male gametophyte, which provides a unique opportunity to study genetic interactions that govern guided single-cell polar expansion of the growing pollen tube and the coordinated control of germ cell division and sperm cell fate specification. We applied the Agilent 44 K tobacco gene chip to conduct the first transcriptomic analysis of the tobacco male gametophyte. In addition, we performed a comparative study of the Arabidopsis root-hair trichoblast transcriptome to evaluate genetic factors and common pathways involved in polarized cell-tip expansion.
Progression of pollen grains from freshly dehisced anthers to pollen tubes 4 h after germination is accompanied with > 5,161 (14.9%) gametophyte-specific expressed probes active in at least one of the developmental stages. In contrast, > 18,821 (54.4%) probes were preferentially expressed in the sporophyte. Our comparative approach identified a subset of 104 pollen tube-expressed genes that overlap with root-hair trichoblasts. Reverse genetic analysis of selected candidates demonstrated that Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase 1 (CSD1), a WD-40 containing protein (BP130384), and Replication factor C1 (NtRFC1) are among the central regulators of pollen-tube tip growth. Extension of our analysis beyond the second haploid mitosis enabled identification of an opposing-dynamic accumulation of core regulators of cell proliferation and cell fate determinants in accordance with the progression of the germ cell cycle.
The current study provides a foundation to isolate conserved regulators of cell tip expansion and those that are unique for pollen tube growth to the female gametophyte. A transcriptomic data set is presented as a benchmark for future functional studies using developing pollen as a model. Our results demonstrated previously unknown functions of certain genes in pollen-tube tip growth. In addition, we highlighted the molecular dynamics of core cell-cycle regulators in the male gametophyte and postulated the first genetic model to account for the differential timing of spermatogenesis among angiosperms and its coordination with female gametogenesis.
In flowering plants, the development of male reproductive organs is controlled precisely to achieve successful fertilization and reproduction. Despite the increasing knowledge of genes that contribute to anther development, the regulatory mechanisms controlling this process are still unclear.
In this study, we analyzed the transcriptome profiles of early anthers of sterile mutants aborted microspores (ams) and found that 1,368 genes were differentially expressed in ams compared to wild type anthers, affecting metabolism, transportation, ubiquitination and stress response. Moreover, the lack of significant enrichment of potential AMS binding sites (E-box) in the promoters of differentially expressed genes suggests both direct and indirect regulation for AMS-dependent regulation of anther transcriptome involving other transcription factors. Combining ams transcriptome profiles with those of two other sterile mutants, spl/nzz and ems1/exs, expression of 3,058 genes were altered in at least one mutant. Our investigation of expression patterns of major transcription factor families, such as bHLH, MYB and MADS, suggested that some closely related homologs of known anther developmental genes might also have similar functions. Additionally, comparison of expression levels of genes in different organs suggested that anther-preferential genes could play important roles in anther development.
Analysis of ams anther transcriptome and its comparison with those of spl/nzz and ems1/exs anthers uncovered overlapping and distinct sets of regulated genes, including those encoding transcription factors and other proteins. These results support an expanded regulatory network for early anther development, providing a series of hypotheses for future experimentation.
The flavonoid pathway is a long-standing and important tool for plant genetics, biochemistry, and molecular biology. Numerous flavonoid mutants have been identified in Arabidopsis over the past several decades in a variety of ecotypes. Here we present an analysis of Arabidopsis lines of ecotype Columbia carrying T-DNA insertions in genes encoding enzymes of the central flavonoid pathway. We also provide a comprehensive summary of various mutant alleles for these structural genes that have been described in the literature to date in a wide variety of ecotypes.
The confirmed knockout lines present easily-scorable phenotypes due to altered pigmentation of the seed coat (or testa). Knockouts for seven alleles for six flavonoid biosynthetic genes were confirmed by PCR and characterized by UPLC for altered flavonol content.
Seven mutant lines for six genes of the central flavonoid pathway were characterized in ecotype, Columbia. These lines represent a useful resource for integrating biochemical and physiological studies with genomic, transcriptomic, and proteomic data, much of which has been, and continues to be, generated in the Columbia background.
Arabidopsis; Ecotype; Insertional inactivation lines; Flavonoid; Transparent testa
During flowering, central anther cells switch from mitosis to meiosis, ultimately forming pollen containing haploid sperm. Four rings of surrounding somatic cells differentiate to support first meiosis and later pollen dispersal. Synchronous development of many anthers per tassel and within each anther facilitates dissection of carefully staged maize anthers for transcriptome profiling.
Global gene expression profiles of 7 stages representing 29 days of anther development are analyzed using a 44 K oligonucleotide array querying approximately 80% of maize protein-coding genes. Mature haploid pollen containing just two cell types expresses 10,000 transcripts. Anthers contain 5 major cell types and express >24,000 transcript types: each anther stage expresses approximately 10,000 constitutive and approximately 10,000 or more transcripts restricted to one or a few stages. The lowest complexity is present during meiosis. Large suites of stage-specific and co-expressed genes are identified through Gene Ontology and clustering analyses as functional classes for pre-meiotic, meiotic, and post-meiotic anther development. MADS box and zinc finger transcription factors with constitutive and stage-limited expression are identified.
We propose that the extensive gene expression of anther cells and pollen represents the key test of maize genome fitness, permitting strong selection against deleterious alleles in diploid anthers and haploid pollen. Because flowering plants show a substantial bias for male-sterile compared to female-sterile mutations, we propose that this fitness test is general. Because both somatic and germinal cells are transcriptionally quiescent during meiosis, we hypothesize that successful completion of meiosis is required to trigger maturation of anther somatic cells.
Many flowering plants attract pollinators by offering a reward of floral nectar. Remarkably, the molecular events involved in the development of nectaries, the organs that produce nectar, as well as the synthesis and secretion of nectar itself, are poorly understood. Indeed, to date, no genes have been shown to directly affect the de novo production or quality of floral nectar. To address this gap in knowledge, the ATH1 Affymetrix® GeneChip array was used to systematically investigate the Arabidopsis nectary transcriptome to identify genes and pathways potentially involved in nectar production.
In this study, we identified a large number of genes differentially expressed between secretory lateral nectaries and non-secretory median nectary tissues, as well as between mature lateral nectaries (post-anthesis) and immature lateral nectaries (pre-anthesis). Expression within nectaries was also compared to thirteen non-nectary reference tissues, from which 270 genes were identified as being significantly upregulated in nectaries. The expression patterns of 14 nectary-enriched genes were also confirmed via RT PCR. Upon looking into functional groups of upregulated genes, pathways involved in gene regulation, carbohydrate metabolism, and lipid metabolism were particularly enriched in nectaries versus reference tissues.
A large number of genes preferentially expressed in nectaries, as well as between nectary types and developmental stages, were identified. Several hypotheses relating to mechanisms of nectar production and regulation thereof are proposed, and provide a starting point for reverse genetics approaches to determine molecular mechanisms underlying nectar synthesis and secretion.
The male gametophyte developmental programme can be divided into five phases which differ in relation to the environment and pollen hydration state: (1) pollen develops inside the anther immersed in locular fluid, which conveys substances from the mother plant – the microsporogenesis phase; (2) locular fluid disappears by reabsorption and/or evaporation before the anther opens and the maturing pollen grains undergo dehydration – the dehydration phase; (3) the anther opens and pollen may be dispersed immediately, or be held by, for example, pollenkitt (as occurs in almost all entomophilous species) for later dispersion – the presentation phase; (4) pollen is dispersed by different agents, remaining exposed to the environment for different periods – the dispersal phase; and (5) pollen lands on a stigma and, in the case of a compatible stigma and suitable conditions, undergoes rehydration and starts germination – the pollen–stigma interaction phase.
This review highlights the issue of pollen water status and indicates the various mechanisms used by pollen grains during their five developmental phases to adjust to changes in water content and maintain internal stability.
Pollen water status is co-ordinated through structural, physiological and molecular mechanisms. The structural components participating in regulation of the pollen water level, during both dehydration and rehydration, include the exine (the outer wall of the pollen grain) and the vacuole. Recent data suggest the involvement of water channels in pollen water transport and the existence of several molecular mechanisms for pollen osmoregulation and to protect cellular components (proteins and membranes) under water stress. It is suggested that pollen grains will use these mechanisms, which have a developmental role, to cope with environmental stress conditions.
Pollen; water status; dehydration; rehydration; angiosperm pollen; pollination
Anthocyanin production is a characteristic response of flowering plants to unfavourable environmental conditions. The potential roles of flavonoids and anthocyanins in plant growth were investigated by growing Arabidopsis thaliana anthocyanin production mutants (transparent testa) under limiting nitrogen and high light conditions. Inability to produce kaempferol or subsequent intermediate compounds by some transparent testa lines was correlated with less biomass accumulation in mature plants compared with wild-type control plants under all growth conditions tested. However, under both limiting nitrogen and high light chronic stress conditions, mutant lines defective in later steps of the anthocyanin production pathway produced the same or more biomass than wild-type plants. No difference in senescence between transparent testa and wild-type plants was found using chlorophyll catabolism and SAG12 expression measurements, and no mutants were impaired in the ability to remobilize nutrients from the vegetative to reproductive tissues. Moreover, the absence of anthocyanin and/or upstream flavonoids does not affect the ability of plants to respond to limiting nitrogen by reducing photosynthetic capacity. These results support a role for kaempferol and quercetin accumulation in normal plant growth and development. Further, the absence of anthocyanins has no effect on plant growth under the chronic stress conditions tested.
Anthocyanin; Arabidopsis; flavonoid; growth; light; nitrogen; stress.
7365AB, a recessive genetic male sterility system, is controlled by BnMs3 in Brassica napus, which encodes a Tic40 protein required for tapetum development. However, the role of BnMs3 in rapeseed anther development is still largely unclear. In this research, cytological analysis revealed that anther development of a Bnms3 mutant has defects in the transition of the tapetum to the secretory type, callose degradation, and pollen-wall formation. A total of 76 down-regulated unigenes in the Bnms3 mutant, several of which are associated with tapetum development, callose degeneration, and pollen development, were isolated by suppression subtractive hybridization combined with a macroarray analysis. Reverse genetics was applied by means of Arabidopsis insertional mutant lines to characterize the function of these unigenes and revealed that MSR02 is only required for transport of sporopollenin precursors through the plasma membrane of the tapetum. The real-time PCR data have further verified that BnMs3 plays a primary role in tapetal differentiation by affecting the expression of a few key transcription factors, participates in tapetal degradation by modulating the expression of cysteine protease genes, and influences microspore separation by manipulating the expression of BnA6 and BnMSR66 related to callose degradation and of BnQRT1 and BnQRT3 required for the primary cell-wall degradation of the pollen mother cell. Moreover, BnMs3 takes part in pollen-wall formation by affecting the expression of a series of genes involved in biosynthesis and transport of sporopollenin precursors. All of the above results suggest that BnMs3 participates in tapetum development, microspore release, and pollen-wall formation in B. napus.
BnMs3; Brassica napus; exine development; gene expression; microspore release; recessive genetic male sterility; suppression subtractive hybridization; tapetum
Background and Aims
The thermoregulatory flower of the Asian sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) can maintain a relatively stable temperature despite great variations in ambient temperature during anthesis. The thermoregulation has been hypothesized to offer a direct energy reward for pollinators in lotus flowers. This study aims to examine whether the stable temperature maintained in the floral chamber influences the fertilization process and seed development.
An artificial refrigeration instrument was employed to cool flowers during the fertilization process and post-fertilization period in an experimental population. The effect of temperature on post-pollination events was also examined by removing petals in two field populations.
Treatments with low floral temperature did not reduce stigma receptivity or pollen viability in undehisced anthers. Low temperature during the fertilization period significantly decreased seed set per flower but low temperature during the phase of seed development had no effect, suggesting that temperature regulation by lotus flowers facilitated fertilization success. Hand-pollination treatments in two field populations indicated that seed set of flowers with petals removed was lower than that of intact flowers in north China, where ambient temperatures are low, but not in south China, confirming that reducing the temperature of carpels did influence post-pollination events.
The experiments suggest that floral thermoregulation in lotus could enhance female reproductive success by facilitating fertilization.
Nelumbo nucifera; Asian sacred lotus; beetle-pollination syndrome; fertilization process; post-pollination events; pollen viability; stigma receptivity; thermoregulation
Pollen tube reception involves a pollen tube-synergid interaction that controls the discharge of sperm cells into the embryo sac during plant fertilization. Despite its importance in the sexual reproduction of plants, little is known about the role of gene regulation in this process. We report here that the pollen-expressed transcription factors MYB97, MYB101 and MYB120 probably control genes whose encoded proteins play important roles in Arabidopsis thaliana pollen tube reception. They share a high amino acid sequence identity and are expressed mainly in mature pollen grains and pollen tubes. None of the single or double mutants of these three genes exhibited any visible defective phenotype. Although the myb97 myb101 myb120 triple mutant was not defective in pollen development, pollen germination, pollen tube growth or tube guidance, the pollen tubes of the triple mutants exhibited uncontrolled growth and failed to discharge their sperm cells after entering the embryo sac. In addition, the myb97 myb101 myb120 triple mutation significantly affected the expression of a group of pollen-expressed genes in mature pollen grains. All these results indicate that MYB97, MYB101 and MYB120 participate in pollen tube reception, possibly by controlling the expression of downstream genes.
Pollen tube reception is an important step of fertilization and is controlled by interactions between the pollen tube and synergid. Components of both the pollen tube and synergid are believed to be involved in the process. Several proteins associated with this process have been identified in synergid cells. However, very little is known about the components contributed by the pollen tube. This work identified a group of Arabidopsis pollen-expressed MYB transcription factors, among which at least three members are involved in pollen tube reception. The myb97 myb101 myb120 triple mutation caused overgrowth of the pollen tube into the embryo sac and disrupted sperm cell discharge, leading to failed fertilization. This study provides novel evidence demonstrating that male factors are involved in pollen tube reception.
The pattern of synthesis of nucleic acids and proteins in the development of the microspore and later during pollen germination and tube growth is discussed. In the pollen grain at the time of anthesis all the proteins that are required for germination and early tube growth are either already present, or if new proteins are synthesized, the messenger RNAs for their synthesis already exist in the ungerminated pollen grain. In addition, similar proteins are synthesized on new mRNAs during germination and pollen tube growth as are synthesized on premade mRNAs. The genetic program during at least the latter part of pollen maturation prior to anthesis is thus the same as that during pollen germination and tube growth. Accordingly, one cannot treat mature pollen with mutagens and expect to be able to score the pollen tubes for mutant proteins. Treatment with mutagenic compounds would have to be during pollen maturation in the anther, before the transcription for the proteins required during germination and pollen tube growth has occurred. Available evidence indicates that this is very early in pollen development, possibly soon after meiosis. The value of pollen tubes to monitor for chemicals that affect the intracellular motility systems of organisms is also discussed.
An anther includes sporophytic tissues of three outer cell layers and an innermost layer, the tapetum, which encloses a locule where the gametophytic microspores mature to become pollen. The sporophytic tissues also comprise some vascular cells and specialized cells of the stomium aligning the long anther axis for anther dehiscence. Studies of the anther sporophytic cells, especially the tapetum, have recently expanded from the use of microscopy to molecular biology and transcriptomes. The available sequencing technologies, plus the use of laser microdissection and in silico subtraction, have produced high-quality anther sporophyte transcriptomes of rice, Arabidopsis and maize. These transcriptomes have been used for research discoveries and have potential for future discoveries in diverse areas, including developmental gene activity networking and changes in enzyme and metabolic domains, prediction of protein functions by quantity, secretion, antisense transcript regulation, small RNAs and promoters for generating male sterility. We anticipate that these studies with rice and other transcriptomes will expand to encompass other plants, whose genomes will be sequenced soon, with ever-advancing sequencing technologies. In comprehensive gene activity profiling of the anther sporophyte, studies involving transcriptomes will spearhead investigation of the downstream gene activity with proteomics and metabolomics.
Anther; Anther development; Anther transcripts; Sporophyte transcripts; Tapetum; Transcriptomes