• Background and Aims Global warming is gaining significance as a threat to natural and managed ecosystems since temperature is one of the major environmental factors affecting plant productivity. Hence, the effects of moderate temperature increase on the growth and development of the tomato plant (Lycopersicon esculentum) were investigated.
• Methods Plants were grown at 32/26 °C as a moderately elevated temperature stress (METS) treatment or at 28/22 °C (day/night temperatures) as a control with natural light conditions. Vegetative growth and reproductive development as well as sugar content and metabolism, proline content and translocation in the androecium were investigated.
• Key Results METS did not cause a significant change in biomass, the number of flowers, or the number of pollen grains produced, but there was a significant decrease in the number of fruit set, pollen viability and the number of pollen grains released. Glucose and fructose contents in the androecium (i.e. all stamens from one flower) were generally higher in the control than METS, but sucrose was higher in METS. Coincidently, the mRNA transcript abundance of acid invertase in the androecium was decreased by METS. Proline contents in the androecium were almost the same in the control and METS, while the mRNA transcript level of proline transporter 1, which expresses specifically at the surface of microspores, was significantly decreased by METS.
• Conclusions The research indicated that failure of tomato fruit set under a moderately increased temperature above optimal is due to the disruption of sugar metabolism and proline translocation during the narrow window of male reproductive development.
Lycopersicon esculentum; moderately elevated temperature stress; microsporogenesis; mean daily temperature; fruit set; pollen release; male reproductive development; tapetum; hexose; sucrose; acid invertase; proline transporter
Pollen, the male partner in the reproduction of flowering plants, comprises either two or three cells at maturity. The current knowledge of the pollen transcriptome is limited to the model plant systems Arabidopsis thaliana and Oryza sativa which have tri-cellular pollen grains at maturity. Comparative studies on pollen of other genera, particularly crop plants, are needed to understand the pollen gene networks that are subject to functional and evolutionary conservation. In this study, we used the Affymetrix Soybean GeneChip® to perform transcriptional profiling on mature bi-cellular soybean pollen.
Compared to the sporophyte transcriptome, the soybean pollen transcriptome revealed a restricted and unique repertoire of genes, with a significantly greater proportion of specifically expressed genes than is found in the sporophyte tissue. Comparative analysis shows that, among the 37,500 soybean transcripts addressed in this study, 10,299 transcripts (27.46%) are expressed in pollen. Of the pollen-expressed sequences, about 9,489 (92.13%) are also expressed in sporophytic tissues, and 810 (7.87%) are selectively expressed in pollen. Overall, the soybean pollen transcriptome shows an enrichment of transcription factors (mostly zinc finger family proteins), signal recognition receptors, transporters, heat shock-related proteins and members of the ubiquitin proteasome proteolytic pathway.
This is the first report of a soybean pollen transcriptional profile. These data extend our current knowledge regarding regulatory pathways that govern the gene regulation and development of pollen. A comparison between transcription factors up-regulated in soybean and those in Arabidopsis revealed some divergence in the numbers and kinds of regulatory proteins expressed in both species.
In contrast to animals and lower plants such as mosses and ferns, sperm cells of flowering plants (angiosperms) are immobile and require transportation to the female gametes via the vegetative pollen tube cell to achieve double fertilization. The path of the pollen tube towards the female gametophyte (embryo sac) has been intensively studied in many intra- and interspecific crossing experiments with the aim of increasing the gene pool of crop plants for greater yield, improved biotic and abiotic stress resistance, and for introducing new agronomic traits. Many attempts to hybridize different species or genotypes failed due to the difficulty for the pollen tubes in reaching the female gametophyte. Detailed studies showed that these processes are controlled by various self-incompatible (intraspecific) and cross-incompatible (interspecific) hybridization mechanisms.
Understanding the molecular mechanisms of crossing barriers is therefore of great interest in plant reproduction, evolution and breeding research. In particular, pre-zygotic hybridization barriers related to pollen tube germination, growth, guidance and sperm delivery, which are considered the major hybridization controls in nature and thus also contribute to species isolation and speciation, have been intensively investigated. Despite this general interest, surprisingly little is known about these processes in the most important agronomic plant family, the Gramineae, Poaceae or grasses. Small polymorphic proteins and their receptors, degradation of sterility locus proteins and general compounds such as calcium, γ-aminobutyric acid or nitric oxide have been shown to be involved in progamic pollen germination, adhesion, tube growth and guidance, as well as sperm release. Most advances have been made in the Brassicaceae, Papaveraceae, Linderniaceae and Solanaceae families including their well-understood self-incompatibility (SI) systems. Grass species evolved similar mechanisms to control the penetration and growth of self-pollen to promote intraspecific outcrossing and to prevent fertilization by alien sperm cells. However, in the Poaceae, the underlying molecular mechanisms are still largely unknown.
We propose to develop maize (Zea mays) as a model to investigate the above-described processes to understand the associated intra- and interspecific crossing barriers in grasses. Many genetic, cellular and biotechnological tools including the completion of a reference genome (inbred line B73) have been established in the last decade and many more maize inbred genomes are expected to be available soon. Moreover, a cellular marker line database as well as large transposon insertion collections and improved Agrobacterium transformation protocols are now available. Additionally, the processes described above are well studied at the morphological level and a number of mutants have been described already, awaiting disclosure of the relevant genes. The identification of the first key players in pollen tube growth, guidance and burst show maize to be an excellent grass model to investigate these processes in more detail. Here we provide an overview of our current understanding of these processes in Poaceae with a focus on maize, and also include relevant discoveries in eudicot model species.
Maize; male germline; sperm cell; interspecific crosses; self- and cross-incompatibility; pollen tube growth and guidance; fertilization; reproductive isolation
We describe here the functional characterization of a novel AtSAP10, a member of the Stress Associated Protein (SAP) gene family, from Arabidopsis thaliana ecotype Columbia. AtSAP10 contains an A20 and AN1 zinc-finger domain at the N- and C-terminal, respectively. Arabidopsis SAP10 showed differential regulation by various abiotic stresses such as heavy metals and metalloids (Ni, Cd, Mn, Zn, and As), high and low temperatures, cold, and ABA. Overexpression of AtSAP10 in Arabidopsis conferred strong tolerance to heavy metals such as Ni, Mn, and Zn and to high temperature stress. AtSAP10 transgenic plants under these stress conditions grew green and healthy, attained several-fold more biomass, and had longer roots as compared to wild type plants. Further, while these transgenic plants accumulated significantly greater amounts of Ni and Mn in both shoots and root tissues, there was no significant difference in the accumulation of Zn. AtSAP10 promoter-GUS fusion studies revealed a root and floral organ-specific expression of AtSAP10. Overexpression of AtSAP10-GFP fusion protein showed the localization in both nucleus and cytoplasm. Taken together, these results showed that AtSAP10 is a potentially useful candidate gene for engineering tolerance to heavy metals and to abiotic stress in cultivated plants.
Reproductive development in sexual plants is substantially more sensitive to high temperature stress than vegetative development, resulting in negative implications for food and fiber production under the moderate temperature increases projected to result from global climate change. High temperature exposure either during early pollen development or during the progamic phase of pollen development will negatively impact pollen performance and reproductive output; both phases of pollen development are considered exceptionally sensitive to moderate heat stress. However, moderately elevated temperatures either before or during the progamic phase can limit fertilization by negatively impacting important pollen pistil interactions required for successful pollen tube growth toward the ovules. This mini-review identifies the impacts of heat stress on pollen-pistil interactions and sexual reproduction in angiosperms. A special emphasis is placed on the biochemical response of the pistil to moderately high temperature and the resultant influence on in vivo pollen performance and fertilization.
pollen-pistil interaction; carbohydrates; heat stress; fertilization; pollen tube growth; climate change
New generation sequencing technology has allowed investigation of the small RNA populations of flowering plants at great depth. However, little is known about small RNAs in their reproductive cells, especially in post-meiotic cells of the gametophyte generation. Pollen - the male gametophyte - is the specialised haploid structure that generates and delivers the sperm cells to the female gametes at fertilisation. Whether development and differentiation of the male gametophyte depends on the action of microRNAs and trans-acting siRNAs guiding changes in gene expression is largely unknown. Here we have used 454 sequencing to survey the various small RNA populations present in mature pollen of Arabidopsis thaliana.
In this study we detected the presence of 33 different microRNA families in mature pollen and validated the expression levels of 17 selected miRNAs by Q-RT-PCR. The majority of the selected miRNAs showed pollen-enriched expression compared with leaves. Furthermore, we report for the first time the presence of trans-acting siRNAs in pollen. In addition to describing new patterns of expression for known small RNAs in each of these classes, we identified 7 putative novel microRNAs. One of these, ath-MIR2939, targets a pollen-specific F-box transcript and we demonstrate cleavage of its target mRNA in mature pollen.
Despite the apparent simplicity of the male gametophyte, comprising just two different cell types, pollen not only utilises many miRNAs and trans-acting siRNAs expressed in the somatic tissues but also expresses novel miRNAs.
Gamete and embryo development are crucial for successful reproduction and seed set in plants, which is often the determining factor for crop yield. Proline accumulation was largely viewed as a specific reaction to overcome stress conditions, while recent studies suggested important functions of proline metabolism also in reproductive development. Both the level of free proline and proline metabolism were proposed to influence the transition to flowering, as well as pollen and embryo development.
In this study, we performed a detailed analysis of the contribution of individual proline biosynthetic enzymes to vegetative development and reproductive success in Arabidopsis. In contrast to previous reports, we found that pyrroline-5-carboxylate (P5C) synthetase 2 (P5CS2) is not essential for sexual reproduction although p5cs2 mutant plants were retarded in vegetative development and displayed reduced fertility under long-day conditions. Single mutant plants devoid of P5CS1 did not show any developmental defects. Simultaneous absence of both P5CS isoforms resulted in pollen sterility, while fertile egg cells could still be produced. Expression of P5C reductase (P5CR) was indispensable for embryo development but surprisingly not needed for pollen or egg cell fertility. The latter observation could be explained by an extreme stability of P5CR activity, which had a half-life time of greater than 3 weeks in vitro. Expression of P5CR-GFP under the control of the endogenous P5CR promoter was able to restore growth of homozygous p5cr mutant embryos. The analysis of P5CR-GFP-fluorescence in planta supported an exclusively cytoplasmatic localisation of P5CR.
Our results demonstrate that potential alternative pathways for proline synthesis or inter-generation transfer of proline are not sufficient to overcome a defect in proline biosynthesis from glutamate during pollen development. Proline biosynthesis through P5CS2 and P5CR is limiting for vegetative and reproductive development in Arabidopsis, whereas disruption of P5CS1 alone does not affect development of non-stressed plants.
Proline metabolism; Gamete and embryo development; Enzyme stability; Subcellular localisation
Low temperature leads to major crop losses every year. Although several studies have been conducted focusing on diversity of cold tolerance level in multiple phenotypically divergent Arabidopsis thaliana (A. thaliana) ecotypes, genome-scale molecular understanding is still lacking.
In this study, we report genome-scale transcript response diversity of 10 A. thaliana ecotypes originating from different geographical locations to non-freezing cold stress (10°C). To analyze the transcriptional response diversity, we initially compared transcriptome changes in all 10 ecotypes using Arabidopsis NimbleGen ATH6 microarrays. In total 6061 transcripts were significantly cold regulated (p < 0.01) in 10 ecotypes, including 498 transcription factors and 315 transposable elements. The majority of the transcripts (75%) showed ecotype specific expression pattern. By using sequence data available from Arabidopsis thaliana 1001 genome project, we further investigated sequence polymorphisms in the core cold stress regulon genes. Significant numbers of non-synonymous amino acid changes were observed in the coding region of the CBF regulon genes. Considering the limited knowledge about regulatory interactions between transcription factors and their target genes in the model plant A. thaliana, we have adopted a powerful systems genetics approach- Network Component Analysis (NCA) to construct an in-silico transcriptional regulatory network model during response to cold stress. The resulting regulatory network contained 1,275 nodes and 7,720 connections, with 178 transcription factors and 1,331 target genes.
A. thaliana ecotypes exhibit considerable variation in transcriptome level responses to non-freezing cold stress treatment. Ecotype specific transcripts and related gene ontology (GO) categories were identified to delineate natural variation of cold stress regulated differential gene expression in the model plant A. thaliana. The predicted regulatory network model was able to identify new ecotype specific transcription factors and their regulatory interactions, which might be crucial for their local geographic adaptation to cold temperature. Additionally, since the approach presented here is general, it could be adapted to study networks regulating biological process in any biological systems.
Arabidopsis thaliana; Ecotypes; Cold stress; Natural variation; Adaptation; Gene expression; Regulatory networks; Arabidopsis thaliana 1001 genome; Systems biology; Network component analysis
Heat stress can cause severe crop yield losses by impairing reproductive development. However, the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. We examined patterns of carbon allocation and activities of sucrose cleavage enzymes in heat-tolerant (HT) and -sensitive (HS) tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) lines subjected to normal (control) and heat stress temperatures. At the control temperature of 25/20 °C (day/night) the HT line exhibited higher cell wall invertase (CWIN) activity in flowers and young fruits and partitioned more sucrose to fruits but less to vegetative tissues as compared to the HS line, independent of leaf photosynthetic capacity. Upon 2-, 4-, or 24-h exposure to day or night temperatures of 5 °C or more above 25/20 °C, cell wall (CWIN) and vacuolar invertases (VIN), but not sucrose synthase (SuSy), activities in young fruit of the HT line were significantly higher than those of the HS line. The HT line had a higher level of transcript of a CWIN gene, Lin7, in 5-day fruit than the HS line under control and heat stress temperatures. Interestingly, heat induced transcription of an invertase inhibitor gene, INVINH1, but reduced its protein abundance. Transcript levels of LePLDa1, encoding phospholipase D, which degrades cell membranes, was less in the HT line than in the HS line after exposure to heat stress. The data indicate that high invertase activity of, and increased sucrose import into, young tomato fruit could contribute to their heat tolerance through increasing sink strength and sugar signalling activities, possibly regulating a programmed cell death pathway.
Biomass partitioning; fruit-set; heat stress; invertase; programmed cell death; Solanum lycopersicum L. (tomato); sucrose import; sugar singalling
The paper supports the view that ethylene plays a significant role in maintaining tomato pollen thermotolerance. Interfering with the ethylene signalling pathway or reducing ethylene levels and increased tomato pollen sensitivity to heat stress. On the other hand, increasing ethylene levels before heat-stress improved pollen quality.
Background and aims
Exposure to higher-than-optimal temperatures reduces crop yield and quality, mainly due to sensitivity of developing pollen grains. The mechanisms maintaining high pollen quality under heat-stress conditions are poorly understood. Our recently published data indicate high heat-stress-induced expression of ethylene-responsive genes in tomato pollen, indicating ethylene involvement in the pollen heat-stress response. Here we elucidated ethylene's involvement in pollen heat-stress response and thermotolerance by assessing the effects of interfering with the ethylene signalling pathway and altering ethylene levels on tomato pollen functioning under heat stress.
Plants of the ethylene-insensitive mutant Never ripe (Nr)—defective in an ethylene response sensor (ERS)-like ethylene receptor—and the corresponding wild type were exposed to control or heat-stress growing conditions, and pollen quality was determined. Starch and carbohydrates were measured in isolated pollen grains from these plants. The effect of pretreating cv. Micro-Tom tomato plants, prior to heat-stress exposure, with an ethylene releaser or inhibitor of ethylene biosynthesis on pollen quality was assessed.
Never ripe pollen grains exhibited higher heat-stress sensitivity, manifested by a significant reduction in the total number of pollen grains, reduction in the number of viable pollen and elevation of the number of non-viable pollen, compared with wild-type plants. Mature Nr pollen grains accumulated only 40 % of the sucrose level accumulated by the wild type. Pretreatment of tomato plants with an ethylene releaser increased pollen quality under heat stress, with an over 5-fold increase in the number of germinating pollen grains per flower. Pretreatment with an ethylene biosynthesis inhibitor reduced the number of germinating pollen grains following heat-stress exposure over 5-fold compared with non-treated controls.
Ethylene plays a significant role in tomato pollen thermotolerance. Interfering with the ethylene signalling pathway or reducing ethylene levels increased tomato pollen sensitivity to heat stress, whereas increasing ethylene levels prior to heat-stress exposure increased pollen quality.
Plant reproductive development is more sensitive than vegetative growth to many environmental stresses. High temperature (HT) injury is becoming an increasingly serious problem due to recent global warming. In wheat, barley, and other crops, the early phase of anther development is most susceptible to HT. I and my colleagues recently demonstrated that HT causes cell proliferation arrest and represses auxin signaling in a tissue-specific manner in the anther cells of barley and Arabidopsis. HT also caused comprehensive alterations in transcription. The application of auxin at the same time blocked the transcriptional alterations, led to the production of normal pollen grains, and restored the normal seed setting rate under increasing temperatures. Although synthetic auxins have been used widely as potent and selective herbicides, these recent results indicate that auxin is useful for the promotion of fertility and maintenance of crop yields under the threat of global warming.
anther development; Arabidopsis; auxin; barley; high temperature injury; male sterility; tapetal degeneration; YUCCA
Pollen grains play important roles in the reproductive processes of flowering plants. The roles of apoplastic proteins in pollen germination and in pollen tube growth are comparatively less well understood. To investigate the functions of apoplastic proteins in pollen germination, the global apoplastic proteins of mature and germinated Arabidopsis thaliana pollen grains were prepared for differential analyses by using 2-dimensional fluorescence difference gel electrophoresis (2-D DIGE) saturation labeling techniques. One hundred and three proteins differentially expressed (p value ≤ 0.01) in pollen germinated for 6h compare with un-germination mature pollen, and 98 spots, which represented 71 proteins, were identified by LC-MS/MS. By bioinformatics analysis, 50 proteins were identified as secreted proteins. These proteins were mainly involved in cell wall modification and remodeling, protein metabolism and signal transduction. Three of the differentially expressed proteins were randomly selected to determine their subcellular localizations by transiently expressing YFP fusion proteins. The results of subcellular localization were identical with the bioinformatics prediction. Based on these data, we proposed a model for apoplastic proteins functioning in pollen germination and pollen tube growth. These results will lead to a better understanding of the mechanisms of pollen germination and pollen tube growth.
Arabidopsis thaliana; pollen germination; apoplast; 2-D DIGE; proteomic
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
Grapevine flower development and fruit set are influenced by cold nights in the vineyard. To investigate the impact of cold stress on carbon metabolism in the inflorescence, we exposed the inflorescences of fruiting cuttings to chilling and freezing temperatures overnight and measured fluctuations in photosynthesis and sugar content. Whatever the temperature, after the stress treatment photosynthesis was modified in the inflorescence, but the nature of the alteration depended on the intensity of the cold stress. At 4°C, photosynthesis in the inflorescence was impaired through non-stomatal limitations, whereas at 0°C it was affected through stomatal limitations. A freezing night (−3°C) severely deregulated photosynthesis in the inflorescence, acting primarily on photosystem II. Cold nights also induced accumulation of sugars. Soluble carbohydrates increased in inflorescences exposed to −3°C, 0°C and 4°C, but starch accumulated only in inflorescences of plants treated at 0 and −3°C. These results suggest that inflorescences are able to cope with cold temperatures by adapting their carbohydrate metabolism using mechanisms that are differentially induced according to stress intensity.
Trafficking between the nucleoplasm and the cytoplasm occurs through the nuclear pore complex (NPC), which consists of large multiprotein complexes. Over the last several years, major progress has been made in both structural determination of the entire assembly of the NPC in yeast and animal cells. By contrast, the plant NPC has long been neglected. Components of the NPC in Arabidopsis thaliana have been identified recently using an interactive proteomic approach. The Arabidopsis nucleoporins are homologous to human nucleoporins, except for a single protein called Nup136. Nup136 is involved in flowering and pollen development, suggesting that Nup136 plays a physiological role in plant reproduction. Nup136 also regulates morphology of the nucleus. Overexpression of Nup136-GFP was found to induce elongation of nuclei in various tissues, whereas deficiency of Nup136 caused a reduction in the size of nuclei. Nup136 is thought to be a functional homolog to animal Nup153, although they have no sequence homology. The mechanism underlying the regulation of nuclear morphology by Nup136, which is thought to be unique to higher plants, is discussed.
nuclear pore complex; nucleoporin; Nup136; nuclear morphology; Arabidopsis thaliana
Sexual reproduction in flowering plants is controlled by recognition mechanisms involving the male gametophyte (the pollen) and the female sporophyte (the pistil). Self-incompatibility (SI) involves the recognition and rejection of self- or incompatible pollen by the pistil. In Papaver rhoeas, SI uses a Ca(2+)-based signalling cascade triggered by the S-protein, which is encoded by the stigmatic component of the S-locus. This results in the rapid inhibition of incompatible pollen tube growth. We have identified several targets of the SI signalling cascade, including protein kinases, the actin cytoskeleton and nuclear DNA. Here, we summarize progress made on currently funded projects in our laboratory investigating some of the components targeted by SI, comprising (i) the characterization of a pollen phosphoprotein (p26) that is rapidly phosphorylated upon an incompatible SI response; (ii) the identification and characterization of a pollen mitogen-activated protein kinase (p56), which exhibits enhanced activation during SI; (iii) characterizing components involved in the reorganization and depolymerization of the actin cytoskeleton during the SI response; and (iv) investigating whether the SI response involves a programmed cell death signalling cascade.
Over a season, plant condition, amount of ongoing reproduction and biotic and abiotic environmental factors vary. As flowers age, flower condition and amount of pollen donated and received also vary. These internal and external changes are significant for fitness if they result in changes in reproduction and mating.
Literature from several fields was reviewed to provide a picture of the changes that occur in plants and flowers that can affect mating over a season. As flowers age, both the entire flower and individual floral whorls show changes in appearance and function. Over a season, changes in mating often appear as alteration in seed production vs. pollen donation. In several species, older, unpollinated flowers are more likely to self. If flowers are receiving pollen, staying open longer may increase the number of mates. In wild radish, for which there is considerable information on seed paternity, older flowers produce fewer seeds and appear to discriminate less among pollen donors. Pollen donor performance can also be linked to maternal plant age. Different pollinators and mates are available across the season. Also in wild radish, maternal plants appear to exert the most control over paternity when they are of intermediate age.
Although much is known about the characters of plants and flowers that can change over a season, there is less information on the effects of age on mating. Several studies document changes in self-pollination over time, but very few, other than those on wild radish, consider more subtle aspects of differential success of pollen donors over time.
Mating patterns; plant age; flower age; wild radish; Raphanus
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are ~22-nt small non-coding RNAs that regulate the expression of specific target genes in many eukaryotes. In higher plants, miRNAs are involved in developmental processes and stress responses. Sexual reproduction in flowering plants relies on pollen, the male gametophyte, to deliver sperm cells to fertilize the egg cell hidden in the embryo sac. Studies indicated that post-transcriptional processes are important for regulating gene expression during pollen function. However, we still have very limited knowledge on the involved gene regulatory mechanisms. Especially, the function of miRNAs in pollen remains unknown.
Using miRCURY LNA array technology, we have profiled the expression of 70 known miRNAs (representing 121 miRBase IDs) in Arabidopsis mature pollen, and compared the expression of these miRNAs in pollen and young inflorescence. Thirty-seven probes on the array were identified using RNAs isolated from mature pollen, 26 of which showed significant differences in expression between mature pollen and inflorescence. Real-time PCR based on TaqMan miRNA assays confirmed the expression of 22 miRNAs in mature pollen, and identified 8 additional miRNAs that were expressed at low level in mature pollen. However, the expression of 11 miRNA that were identified on the array could not be confirmed by the Taqman miRNA assays. Analyses of transcriptome data for some miRNA target genes indicated that miRNAs are functional in pollen.
In summary, our results showed that some known miRNAs were expressed in Arabidopsis mature pollen, with most of them being low abundant. The results can be utilized in future research to study post-transcriptional gene regulation in pollen function.
Mature pollen is very sensitive to cold stress in chilling-sensitive plants. Plant WRKY DNA-binding transcription factors are key regulators in plant responses to abiotic and biotic stresses. Previous studies have suggested that WRKY34 (At4g26440) gene might be involved in pollen viability, although the mechanism involved is unclear. In this study, it is shown that cold treatment increased WRKY34 expression in the wild type, and promoter-GUS analysis revealed that WRKY34 expression is pollen-specific. Enhanced green fluorescent protein-tagged WRKY34 was localized in the nuclei. Pollen harbouring the wrky34 allele showed higher viability than pollen with the WRKY34 allele after cold treatment. Further functional analysis indicated that the WRKY34 transcription factor was involved in pollen development regulated by the pollen-specific MIKC* class of MADS-domain transcription factors under cold stress, and cold-insensitivity of mature wrky34 pollen might be partly attributable to the enhanced expression of transcriptional activator CBFs in the mutants. Thus, the WRKY34 transcription factor negatively mediated cold sensitivity of mature Arabidopsis pollen and might be involved in the CBF signal cascade in mature pollen.
Arabidopsis; cold stress; pollen; transcription factor; WRKY34
Polarized cell elongation is triggered by small molecule cues during development of diverse organisms. During plant reproduction, pollen interactions with the stigma result in the polar outgrowth of a pollen tube, which delivers sperm cells to the female gametophyte to effect double fertilization. In many plants, pistils stimulate pollen germination. However, in Arabidopsis, the effect of pistils on pollen germination and the pistil factors that stimulate pollen germination remain poorly characterized. Here, we demonstrate that stigma, style, and ovules in Arabidopsis pistils stimulate pollen germination. We isolated an Arabidopsis pistil extract fraction that stimulates Arabidopsis pollen germination, and employed ultrahigh resolution ESI FT-ICR and MS/MS techniques to accurately determine the mass (202.126 daltons) of a compound that is specifically present in this pistil extract fraction. Using the molecular formula (C10H19NOS) and tandem mass spectral fragmentation patterns of the m/z (mass to charge ratio) 202.126 ion, we postulated chemical structures, devised protocols, synthesized N-Methanesulfinyl 1- and 2-azadecalins that are close structural mimics of the m/z 202.126 ion, and showed that they are sufficient to stimulate Arabidopsis pollen germination in vitro (30 µM stimulated ~50% germination) and elicit accession-specific response. Although N-Methanesulfinyl 2-azadecalin stimulated pollen germination in three species of Lineage I of Brassicaceae, it did not induce a germination response in Sisymbrium irio (Lineage II of Brassicaceae) and tobacco, indicating that activity of the compound is not random. Our results show that Arabidopsis pistils promote germination by producing azadecalin-like molecules to ensure rapid fertilization by the appropriate pollen.
Pollen; pistil; germination; stimulant; chemical biology; functional mimic
The antioxidant glutathione fulfills many important roles during plant development, growth and defense in the sporophyte, however the role of this important molecule in the gametophyte generation is largely unclear. Bioinformatic data indicate that critical control enzymes are negligibly transcribed in pollen and sperm cells. Therefore, we decided to investigate the role of glutathione synthesis for pollen germination in vitro in Arabidopsis thaliana accession Col-0 and in the glutathione deficient mutant pad2-1 and link it with glutathione status on the subcellular level.
The depletion of glutathione by buthionine sulfoximine (BSO), an inhibitor of glutathione synthesis, reduced pollen germination rates to 2-5% compared to 71% germination in wildtype controls. The application of reduced glutathione (GSH), together with BSO, restored pollen germination and glutathione contents to control values, demonstrating that inhibition of glutathione synthesis is responsible for the decrease of pollen germination in vitro. The addition of indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) to media containing BSO restored pollen germination to control values, which demonstrated that glutathione depletion in pollen grains triggered disturbances in auxin metabolism which led to inhibition of pollen germination.
This study demonstrates that glutathione synthesis is essential for pollen germination in vitro and that glutathione depletion and auxin metabolism are linked in pollen germination and early elongation of the pollen tube, as IAA addition rescues glutathione deficient pollen.
Arabidopsis; auxin; gametophyte; glutathione; indole-3-acetic acid; pollen
Fluctuations in temperature occur naturally during plant growth and reproduction. However, in the hot summers this variation may become stressful and damaging for the molecular mechanisms involved in proper cell growth, impairing thus plant development and particularly fruit-set in many crop plants. Tolerance to such a stress can be achieved by constitutive gene expression or by rapid changes in gene expression, which ultimately leads to protection against thermal damage. We have used cDNA-AFLP and microarray analyses to compare the early response of the tomato meiotic anther transcriptome to moderate heat stress conditions (32°C) in a heat-tolerant and a heat-sensitive tomato genotype. In the light of the expected global temperature increases, elucidating such protective mechanisms and identifying candidate tolerance genes can be used to improve breeding strategies for crop tolerance to heat stress.
The cDNA-AFLP analysis shows that 30 h of moderate heat stress (MHS) alter the expression of approximately 1% of the studied transcript-derived fragments in a heat-sensitive genotype. The major effect is gene down-regulation after the first 2 h of stress. The microarray analysis subsequently applied to elucidate early responses of a heat-tolerant and a heat-sensitive tomato genotype, also shows about 1% of the genes having significant changes in expression after the 2 h of stress. The tolerant genotype not only reacts with moderate transcriptomic changes but also exhibits constitutively higher expression levels of genes involved in protection and thermotolerance.
In contrast to the heat-sensitive genotype, the heat-tolerant genotype exhibits moderate transcriptional changes under moderate heat stress. Moreover, the heat-tolerant genotype also shows a different constitutive gene expression profile compared to the heat-sensitive genotype, indicating genetic differences in adaptation to increased temperatures. In the heat-tolerant genotype, the majority of changes in gene expression is represented by up-regulation, while in the heat-sensitive genotype there is a general trend to down-regulate gene expression upon MHS. The putative functions associated with the genes identified by cDNA-AFLP or microarray indicate the involvement of heat shock, metabolism, antioxidant and development pathways. Based on the observed differences in response to MHS and on literature sources, we identified a number of candidate transcripts involved in heat-tolerance.
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 cytoskeleton is a key regulator of morphogenesis, sexual reproduction, and cellular responses to extracellular stimuli. Changes in the cellular architecture are often assumed to require actin-binding proteins as stimulus-response modulators, because many of these proteins are regulated directly by binding to intracellular second messengers or signaling phospholipids. Phosphatidic acid (PA) is gaining widespread acceptance as a major, abundant phospholipid in plants that is required for pollen tube tip growth and mediates responses to osmotic stress, wounding, and phytohormones; however, the number of identified effectors of PA is rather limited. Here we demonstrate that exogenous PA application leads to significant increases in filamentous actin levels in Arabidopsis suspension cells and poppy pollen grains. To investigate further these lipid-induced changes in polymer levels, we analyzed the properties of a key regulator of actin filament polymerization, the heterodimeric capping protein from Arabidopsis thaliana (AtCP). AtCP binds to PA with a Kd value of 17 μM and stoichiometry of ∼1:2. It also binds well to PtdIns(4,5)P2, but not to several other phosphoinositide or acidic phospholipids. The interaction with PA inhibited the actin-binding activity of CP. In the presence of PA, CP is unable to block the barbed or rapidly growing and shrinking end of actin filaments. Precapped filament barbed ends can also be uncapped by addition of PA, allowing rapid filament assembly from an actin monomer pool that is buffered with profilin. The findings support a model in which the inhibition of CP activity in cells by elevated PA results in the stimulation of actin polymerization from a large pool of profilin-actin. Such regulation may be important for the response of plant cells to extracellular stimuli as well as for the normal process of pollen tube tip growth.
AtLURE1 defensin-like peptides, which show species-specific evolution, are essential in Arabidopsis for attracting pollen tubes and can function in the breakdown of reproductive isolation barriers.
Genes directly involved in male/female and host/parasite interactions are believed to be under positive selection. The flowering plant Arabidopsis thaliana has more than 300 defensin-like (DEFL) genes, which are likely to be involved in both natural immunity and cell-to-cell communication including pollen–pistil interactions. However, little is known of the relationship between the molecular evolution of DEFL genes and their functions. Here, we identified a recently evolved cluster of DEFL genes in A. thaliana and demonstrated that these DEFL (cysteine-rich peptide [CRP810_1]) peptides, named AtLURE1 peptides, are pollen tube attractants guiding pollen tubes to the ovular micropyle. The AtLURE1 genes formed the sole species-specific cluster among DEFL genes compared to its close relative, A. lyrata. No evidence for positive selection was detected in AtLURE1 genes and their orthologs, implying neutral evolution of AtLURE1 genes. AtLURE1 peptides were specifically expressed in egg-accompanying synergid cells and secreted toward the funicular surface through the micropyle. Genetic analyses showed that gametophytic mutants defective in micropylar guidance (myb98, magatama3, and central cell guidance) do not express AtLURE1 peptides. Downregulation of the expression of these peptides impaired precise pollen tube attraction to the micropylar opening of some populations of ovules. Recombinant AtLURE1 peptides attracted A. thaliana pollen tubes at a higher frequency compared to A. lyrata pollen tubes, suggesting that these peptides are species-preferential attractants in micropylar guidance. In support of this idea, the heterologous expression of a single AtLURE1 peptide in the synergid cell of Torenia fournieri was sufficient to guide A. thaliana pollen tubes to the T. fournieri embryo sac and to permit entry into it. Our results suggest the unique evolution of AtLURE1 genes, which are directly involved in male–female interaction among the DEFL multigene family, and furthermore suggest that these peptides are sufficient to overcome interspecific barriers in gametophytic attraction and penetration.
Defensin-like (DEFL) peptides commonly function as effector peptides and are involved in male-female and host-parasite interactions in eukaryotes. In higher plants, DEFL genes belong to a large multigene family and are highly variable between species. However, little is known about the relationship between the molecular evolution of DEFL genes and their functions. By comparing multiply duplicated DEFL genes between A. thaliana and its close relative A. lyrata, we have now identified pollen tube attractant peptides called AtLURE1 peptides, in A. thaliana. We find that AtLURE1 genes form a species-specific gene cluster and that the AtLURE1 peptides these genes encode are specifically expressed in the synergid (egg-accompanying) cells and are secreted along the path down which the pollen tube elongates to reach the female gametophyte. AtLURE1 peptides attract pollen tubes in a species-preferential manner and their downregulation impairs pollen tube guidance. Interestingly, the genetic introduction of a single AtLURE1 gene from A. thaliana into another plant, T. fournieri, is sufficient to breakdown reproductive isolation barriers in pollen tube guidance and penetration. These results suggest that AtLURE1 peptides, which show species-specific evolution, are key molecules that attract pollen tubes from a plant's own species to the embryo sac to enable successful reproduction.