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1.  Release of developmental constraints on tetrad shape is confirmed in inaperturate pollen of Potamogeton 
Annals of Botany  2009;104(5):1011-1015.
Background and Aims
Microsporogenesis in monocots is often characterized by successive cytokinesis with centrifugal cell plate formation. Pollen grains in monocots are predominantly monosulcate, but variation occurs, including the lack of apertures. The aperture pattern can be determined by microsporogenesis features such as the tetrad shape and the last sites of callose deposition among the microspores. Potamogeton belongs to the early divergent Potamogetonaceae and possesses inaperturate pollen, a type of pollen for which it has been suggested that there is a release of the constraint on tetrad shape. This study aimed to investigate the microsporogenesis and the ultrastructure of pollen wall in species of Potamogeton in order to better understand the relationship between microsporogenesis features and the inaperturate condition.
The microsporogenesis was investigated using both light and epifluorescence microscopy. The ultrastructure of the pollen grain was studied using transmission electron microscopy.
Key Results
The cytokinesis is successive and formation of the intersporal callose wall is achieved by centrifugal cell plates, as a one-step process. The microspore tetrads were tetragonal, decussate, T-shaped and linear, except in P. pusillus, which showed less variation. This species also showed a callose ring in the microsporocyte, and some rhomboidal tetrads. In the mature pollen, the thickening observed in a broad area of the intine was here interpreted as an artefact.
The data support the view that there is a correlation between the inaperturate pollen production and the release of constraint on tetrad shape. However, in P. pusillus the tetrad shape may be constrained by a callose ring. It is also suggested that the lack of apertures in the pollen of Potamogeton may be due to the lack of specific sites on which callose deposition is completed. Moreover, inaperturate pollen of Potamogeton would be better classified as omniaperturate.
PMCID: PMC2749525  PMID: 19567417
Alismatales; callose; microsporogenesis; pollen aperture; Potamogeton illinoensis; P. polygonus; P. pusillus; tetrad shape
2.  Multiple Developmental Pathways Leading to a Single Morph: Monosulcate Pollen (Examples From the Asparagales) 
Annals of Botany  2004;95(2):331-343.
• Background and Aims Early developmental events in microsporogenesis are known to play a role in pollen morphology: variation in cytokinesis type, cell wall formation, tetrad shape and aperture polarity are responsible for pollen aperture patterning. Despite the existence of other morphologies, monosulcate pollen is one of the most common aperture types in monocots, and is also considered as the ancestral condition in this group. It is known to occur from either a successive or a simultaneous cytokinesis. In the present study, the developmental sequence of microsporogenesis is investigated in several species of Asparagales that produce such monosulcate pollen, representing most families of this important monocot clade.
• Methods The developmental pathway of microsporogenesis was investigated using light transmission and epifluorescence microscopy for all species studied. Confocal microscopy was used to confirm centripetal cell plate formation.
• Key Results Microsporogenesis is diverse in Asparagales, and most variation is generally found between families. It is confirmed that the whole higher Asparagales clade has a very conserved microsporogenesis, with a successive cytokinesis and centrifugal cell plate formation. Centripetal cell wall formation is described in Tecophilaeaceae and Iridaceae, a feature that had so far only been reported for eudicots.
• Conclusions Monosulcate pollen can be obtained from several developmental pathways, leading thus to homoplasy in the monosulcate character state. Monosulcate pollen should not therefore be considered as the ancestral state unless it is produced through the ancestral developmental pathway. The question about the ancestral developmental pathway leading to monosulcy remains open.
PMCID: PMC4246833  PMID: 15567807
Aperture pattern; Asparagales; cell wall formation; development; microsporogenesis; monosulcate pollen
3.  Variation of microsporogenesis in monocots producing monosulcate pollen grains 
Annals of Botany  2013;112(1):135-139.
Background and Aims
Microsporogenesis leading to monosulcate pollen grains has already been described for a wide range of monocot species. However, a detailed study of additional callose deposition after the completion of the cleavage walls has been neglected so far. The study of additional callose deposition in monosulcate pollen grain has gained importance since a correlation between additional callose deposition and aperture location has recently been revealed.
Microsporogenesis is described for 30 species belonging to eight families of the monocots: Acoraceae, Amaryllidaceae, Alstroemeriaceae, Asparagaceae, Butomaceae, Commelinaceae, Liliaceae and Xanthorrhoeaceae.
Key Results
Five different microsporogenesis pathways are associated with monosulcate pollen grain. They differ in the type of cytokinesis, tetrad shape, and the presence and shape of additional callose deposition. Four of them present additional callose deposition.
In all these different microsporogenesis pathways, aperture location seems to be linked to the last point of callose deposition.
PMCID: PMC3690993  PMID: 23666889
Callose; microsporogenesis; pollen; aperture pattern; monocots; Acoraceae; Amaryllidaceae; Alstroemeriaceae; Asparagaceae; Butomaceae; Commelinaceae; Liliaceae; Xanthorrhoeaceae
4.  Pollen development in Annona cherimola Mill. (Annonaceae). Implications for the evolution of aggregated pollen 
BMC Plant Biology  2009;9:129.
In most flowering plants, pollen is dispersed as monads. However, aggregated pollen shedding in groups of four or more pollen grains has arisen independently several times during angiosperm evolution. The reasons behind this phenomenon are largely unknown. In this study, we followed pollen development in Annona cherimola, a basal angiosperm species that releases pollen in groups of four, to investigate how pollen ontogeny may explain the rise and establishment of this character. We followed pollen development using immunolocalization and cytochemical characterization of changes occurring from anther differentiation to pollen dehiscence.
Our results show that, following tetrad formation, a delay in the dissolution of the pollen mother cell wall and tapetal chamber is a key event that holds the four microspores together in a confined tapetal chamber, allowing them to rotate and then bind through the aperture sites through small pectin bridges, followed by joint sporopollenin deposition.
Pollen grouping could be the result of relatively minor ontogenetic changes beneficial for pollen transfer or/and protection from desiccation. Comparison of these events with those recorded in the recent pollen developmental mutants in Arabidopsis indicates that several failures during tetrad dissolution may convert to a common recurring phenotype that has evolved independently several times, whenever this grouping conferred advantages for pollen transfer.
PMCID: PMC2774696  PMID: 19874617
5.  Successive microsporogenesis affects pollen aperture pattern in the tam mutant of Arabidopsis thaliana 
Annals of Botany  2011;107(8):1421-1426.
Background and Aims
The tam (tardy asynchronous meiosis) mutant of Arabidopsis thaliana, which exhibits a modified cytokinesis with a switch from simultaneous to successive cytokinesis, was used to perform a direct test of the implication of cytokinesis in aperture-pattern ontogeny of angiosperm pollen grains. The aperture pattern corresponds to the number and arrangement of apertures (areas of the pollen wall permitting pollen tube germination) on the surface of the pollen grain.
A comparative analysis of meiosis and aperture distribution was performed in two mutant strains of arabidopsis: quartet and quartet-tam.
Key Results
While the number of apertures is not affected in the quartet-tam mutant, the arrangement of the three apertures is modified compared with the quartet, resulting in a different aperture pattern.
These results directly demonstrate the relationship between the type of sporocytic cytokinesis and pollen aperture-pattern ontogeny.
PMCID: PMC3101141  PMID: 21489970
Cytokinesis; microsporogenesis; pollen; aperture pattern; A-type cyclin; tam; tardy asynchronous meiosis; Arabidopsis thaliana
6.  Intracellular motility and the evolution of the actin cytoskeleton during development of the male gametophyte of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) 
The uniaperturate pollen of wheat is dispersed in a partially hydrated condition. Amyloplasts are concentrated in the apertural hemisphere where they surround the two sperms, while vigorously moving polysaccharide-containing wall precursor bodies (P-particles) together with the vegetative nucleus occupy the other. This disposition is the product of a post-meiotic developmental sequence apparently peculiar to the grasses. During vacuolation of the spore after release from the tetrad, the nucleus is displaced to the pole of the cell opposite the site of the germination aperture, already defined in the tetrad. Following pollen mitosis, the vegetative nucleus migrates along the wall of the vegetative cell towards the aperture, leaving the generative cell at the opposite pole isolated by a callose wall. As the vacuole is resorbed, the generative cell rounds up, loses its wall and follows the vegetative nucleus, passing along the wall of the vegetative cell towards the aperture where it eventually divides to produce the two sperms. Throughout this period of nucleus and cell manoeuvrings, minor inclusions of the vegetative cell cytoplasm, including mitochondria, lipid globuli and developing amyloplasts, move randomly. Coordinated vectorial movement begins after the main period of starch accumulation, when the amyloplasts migrate individually into the apertural hemisphere of the grain, a final redistribution betokening the attainment of germinability. In the present paper we correlate aspects of the evolution of the actin cytoskeleton with these events in the developing grain, and relate the observations to published evidence from another monocotyledonous species concerning the timing of the expression of actin genes during male gametophyte development, as revealed in the synthesis of actin mRNA.
PMCID: PMC1692162
Wheat Tritium Aestivium Pollen Development Intracellular Motility Actin Cytoskeleton
7.  The Unique Pollen Morphology of Duparquetia (Leguminosae: Caesalpinioideae): Developmental Evidence of Aperture Orientation Using Confocal Microscopy 
Annals of Botany  2006;98(1):107-115.
• Background and Aims The phylogenetic affinities of the aberrant monotypic genus Duparquetia (subfamily Caesalpinioideae) are at present unresolved. Preliminary results from molecular analyses suggest a basal, isolated position among legumes. A study of Duparquetia pollen was carried out to provide further morphological characters to contribute to multi-data set analyses. Understanding the development of Duparquetia pollen was necessary to clarify the orientation of the apertures.
• Methods Pollen grains and developing microspores were examined using light microscopy, confocal microscopy and scanning electron microscopy. Evidence for the orientation of the apertures was provided by the examination of microspores within developing tetrads, using (a) confocal microscopy to locate the position of the ectoapertures, and (b) light microscopy and Alcian blue stain to locate the position of the endoapertures.
• Key Results Confocal microscopy has been used for the first time to examine developing microspores in order to obtain information on ectoapertures that was unavailable using other techniques. Pollen in Duparquetia develops in tetrahedral tetrads as in other eudicots, with the apertures arranged in a modified pattern following Fischer's rule. Pollen grains are asymmetrical and have one equatorial-encircling ectoaperture with two equatorial endoapertures, a unique feature in Leguminosae, and in eudicots.
• Conclusions The pollen morphology of Duparquetia is so unusual that it provides little information to help determine its closest relatives. However, it does fit with a pattern of greater pollen morphological diversity in the first-branching caesalpinioid legume groups than in the more derived clades. The latitudinal ectoaperture of Duparquetia is unique within the Fabales and eudicot clades, resembling more closely the monosulcate pollen found in monocots and basal angiosperms; however, developmental patterns are recognizably similar to those of all other legume pollen types.
PMCID: PMC2803545  PMID: 16735411
Duparquetia orchidacea; Leguminosae; pollen apertures; pollen development; confocal microscopy; tetrads
8.  Developmental evolution of flowering plant pollen tube cell walls: callose synthase (CalS) gene expression patterns 
EvoDevo  2011;2:14.
A number of innovations underlie the origin of rapid reproductive cycles in angiosperms. A critical early step involved the modification of an ancestrally short and slow-growing pollen tube for faster and longer distance transport of sperm to egg. Associated with this shift are the predominantly callose (1,3-β-glucan) walls and septae (callose plugs) of angiosperm pollen tubes. Callose synthesis is mediated by callose synthase (CalS). Of 12 CalS gene family members in Arabidopsis, only one (CalS5) has been directly linked to pollen tube callose. CalS5 orthologues are present in several monocot and eudicot genomes, but little is known about the evolutionary origin of CalS5 or what its ancestral function may have been.
We investigated expression of CalS in pollen and pollen tubes of selected non-flowering seed plants (gymnosperms) and angiosperms within lineages that diverged below the monocot/eudicot node. First, we determined the nearly full length coding sequence of a CalS5 orthologue from Cabomba caroliniana (CcCalS5) (Nymphaeales). Semi-quantitative RT-PCR demonstrated low CcCalS5 expression within several vegetative tissues, but strong expression in mature pollen. CalS transcripts were detected in pollen tubes of several species within Nymphaeales and Austrobaileyales, and comparative analyses with a phylogenetically diverse group of sequenced genomes indicated homology to CalS5. We also report in silico evidence of a putative CalS5 orthologue from Amborella. Among gymnosperms, CalS5 transcripts were recovered from germinating pollen of Gnetum and Ginkgo, but a novel CalS paralog was instead amplified from germinating pollen of Pinus taeda.
The finding that CalS5 is the predominant callose synthase in pollen tubes of both early-diverging and model system angiosperms is an indicator of the homology of their novel callosic pollen tube walls and callose plugs. The data suggest that CalS5 had transient expression and pollen-specific functions in early seed plants and was then recruited to novel expression patterns and functions within pollen tube walls in an ancestor of extant angiosperms.
PMCID: PMC3146827  PMID: 21722365
9.  Cryptic dioecy in Mussaenda pubescens (Rubiaceae): a species with stigma-height dimorphism 
Annals of Botany  2010;106(4):521-531.
Background and Aims
Evolutionary transitions from heterostyly to dioecy have been proposed in several angiosperm families, particularly in Rubiaceae. These transitions involve the spread of male and female sterility mutations resulting in modifications to the gender of ancestral hermaphrodites. Despite sustained interest in the gender strategies of plants, the structural and developmental bases for transitions in sexual systems are poorly understood.
Here, floral morphology, patterns of fertility, pollen-tube growth and floral development are investigated in two populations of the scandent shrub Mussaenda pubescens (Rubiaceae), native to southern China, by means of experimental and open-pollinations, light microscopy, fluorescence microscopy and scanning electron microscopy combined with paraffin sectioning.
Key Results
Mussaenda pubescens has perfect (hermaphroditic) flowers and populations with two style-length morphs but only weak differentiation in anther position (stigma-height dimorphism). Experimental pollinations demonstrated that despite morphological hermaphroditism, the species is functionally dioecious. The long-styled (L) morph possesses sterile pollen and functions as a female, whereas the short-styled (S) morph is female sterile and functions as a male. Self- and intra-morph pollinations of the S-morph were consistent with those expected from dimorphic incompatibility. The two populations investigated were both S-morph (male) biased. Investigations of early stages of floral development indicated patterns typical of hermaphroditic flowers, with no significant differences in organ growth between the floral morphs. Meiosis of microspore mother cells was of the simultaneous type with tetrads isobilateral in shape. The tapetal cells in anther walls of the L-morph became vacuolized during meiosis I, ahead of the uninucleate microspore stage in the S-morph. In the L-morph, the microspore nucleus degenerated at the tetrad stage resulting in male sterility. Microsporogenesis and male gametophyte development was normal in the S-morph. Failure in the formation of megaspore mother cells and/or the development of megagametophytes resulted in female sterility in the S-morph, compared with normal megasporogenesis in the L-morph.
In M. pubescens, cryptic dioecy has evolved from stigma-height dimorphism as a result of morph-specific sterility mutations.
PMCID: PMC2944971  PMID: 20647224
Dioecy; distyly; female and male sterility; floral development; Mussaenda pubescens; stigma-height polymorphism; self-incompatibility
10.  Deposition of callose in young ovules of two Taraxacum species varying in the mode of reproduction 
Protoplasma  2014;252:135-144.
Although callose occurs during megasporogenesis in most flowering plants, the knowledge about its general function and the mechanisms by which the callose layer is formed in particular places is still not sufficient. The results of previous studies suggest a total lack of callose in the ovules of diplosporous plants in which meiosis is omitted or disturbed. This report is the first documentation of callose events in dandelions ovules. We demonstrated the pattern of callose deposition during the formation of megaspores through diplospory of Taraxacum type and during normal meiotic megasporogenesis in apomictic triploid Taraxacum atricapillum and amphimictic diploid Taraxacum linearisquameum. We found the presence of callose in the megasporocyte wall of both diplosporous and sexual dandelions. However, in a diplosporous dandelion, callose predominated at the micropylar pole of megaspore mother cell (MMC) which may be correlated with abnormal asynaptic meiosis and may indicate diplospory of the Taraxacum type. After meiotic division, callose is mainly deposited in the walls between megaspores in tetrads and in diplodyads. In subsequent stages, callose gradually disappears around the chalazal functional megaspore. However, some variations in the pattern of callose deposition within tetrad may reflect variable positioning of the functional megaspore (FM) observed in the ovules of T. linearisquameum.
PMCID: PMC4287685  PMID: 24938673
Apomixis; Callose; Chromosome number; Diplospory megasporogenesis; Taraxacum
11.  Pollen-wall Formation in Arum alpinum 
Annals of Botany  2006;97(2):239-244.
• Background and Aims Arum alpinum has a quite uncommon pollen wall. A sporopolleninous ektexine is missing. The outermost pollen wall layer is formed by the endexine which is covered by polysaccharidic ornamentation elements. An ontogenetical investigation was accomplished to clarify pollen-wall development, with special reference to callose and pollen-wall development.
• Methods Plants of Arum alpinum grown in their natural habitat were collected once a week within the vegetative period and processed for semi- and ultra-thin sectioning.
• Key Results At any stage of pollen-wall formation callose is missing. Microspores are released from the tetrad by invagination of the amoeboid tapetum. The polysaccharidic wall ornamentations are formed by the tapetum.
• Conclusions There appears to be no truth in the dogma that callose is essential for microspore separation and release from the tetrad. The lack of callose does not influence fertility but could be the reason for the uncommon pollen wall, where a sporopolleninous ektexine is missing.
PMCID: PMC2803357  PMID: 16299007
Araceae; Arum alpinum; callose; pollen; spines; tapetum
12.  Callose plug deposition patterns vary in pollen tubes of Arabidopsis thaliana ecotypes and tomato species 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:178.
The pollen grain contains the male gametophyte that extends a pollen tube that grows through female tissues in order to deliver sperm to the embryo sac for double fertilization. Growing pollen tubes form periodic callose plugs that are thought to block off the older parts of the tube and maintain the cytoplasm near the growing tip. The morphology of callose plugs and the patterns of their deposition were previously shown to vary among species, but variation within a species had not been examined. We therefore systematically examined callose plug deposition in Arabidopsis thaliana ecotypes, tested for heritability using reciprocal crosses between ecotypes that had differing deposition patterns, and investigated the relationship between callose plugs and pollen tube growth rate. We also surveyed callose plug deposition patterns in different species of tomato.
We used in vitro grown pollen tubes of 14 different A. thaliana ecotypes and measured the distance from the pollen grain pore to the first callose plug (termed first interval). This distance varied among Arabidopsis ecotypes and in some cases even within an ecotype. Pollen tubes without a callose plug were shorter than those with a callose plug, and tubes with a callose plug near the grain were, on average, longer than those with the first callose plug farther from the grain. Variations in the first callose plug position were also observed between different species of tomato.
We showed that the position of the first callose plug varied among Arabidopsis ecotypes and in tomato species, and that callose plug deposition patterns were heritable. These findings lay a foundation for mapping genes that regulate callose plug deposition or that determine pollen tube length or growth rate.
PMCID: PMC3502330  PMID: 23034062
Callose plugs; Pollen tube growth; Sperm
13.  Lilium spp. pollen in China (Liliaceae): Taxonomic and Phylogenetic Implications and Pollen Evolution Related to Environmental Conditions 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e87841.
Recent molecular and karyologic studies have significantly modified delimitation of Lilium. However, despite the importance of pollen evolution in the genus comprehensive studies with electron microscopy and evaluation of pollen evolution are lacking. Therefore, we studied pollen morphology in a sample of 65 individuals from 37 taxa covering all the sections distributed in the world, using scanning electron microscopy. Our collection of 49 individuals from 21 taxa covering all five sections in China was also included in the database. We found pollen tetrads in L. bakerianum. Based on present and previous studies, our results suggest that pollen from L. formosanum should be classified as a new type, Formosanum. Combined with morphological and molecular evidence, pollen sculpture patterns appear to reflect phylogenetic relationships and are useful for species or subsection delimitation. Based on a comprehensive survey and correlation with potential functional implications, we propose the following hypothesis: evolution of an exine sculpture shows pollen type trends from Martagon → Callose → Concolor → Formosanum. The evolutionary trend regarding pollen sculpture and size could be related to selective pressure to adapt to environmental conditions. Pollen size and shape showed a significantly positive correlation with annual precipitation, and smaller pollen grains appear to adapt better in habitats with extreme conditions. Evolution trends in exine sculpture do not appear to be definitively correlated with pollen size and shape.
PMCID: PMC3909241  PMID: 24498208
14.  Electrophoretic profiling and immunocytochemical detection of pectins and arabinogalactan proteins in olive pollen during germination and pollen tube growth 
Annals of Botany  2013;112(3):503-513.
Background and Aims
Cell wall pectins and arabinogalactan proteins (AGPs) are important for pollen tube growth. The aim of this work was to study the temporal and spatial dynamics of these compounds in olive pollen during germination.
Immunoblot profiling analyses combined with confocal and transmission electron microscopy immunocytochemical detection techniques were carried out using four anti-pectin (JIM7, JIM5, LM5 and LM6) and two anti-AGP (JIM13 and JIM14) monoclonal antibodies.
Key Results
Pectin and AGP levels increased during olive pollen in vitro germination. (1 → 4)-β-d-Galactans localized in the cytoplasm of the vegetative cell, the pollen wall and the apertural intine. After the pollen tube emerged, galactans localized in the pollen tube wall, particularly at the tip, and formed a collar-like structure around the germinative aperture. (1 → 5)-α-l-Arabinans were mainly present in the pollen tube cell wall, forming characteristic ring-shaped deposits at regular intervals in the sub-apical zone. As expected, the pollen tube wall was rich in highly esterified pectic compounds at the apex, while the cell wall mainly contained de-esterified pectins in the shank. The wall of the generative cell was specifically labelled with arabinans, highly methyl-esterified homogalacturonans and JIM13 epitopes. In addition, the extracellular material that coated the outer exine layer was rich in arabinans, de-esterified pectins and JIM13 epitopes.
Pectins and AGPs are newly synthesized in the pollen tube during pollen germination. The synthesis and secretion of these compounds are temporally and spatially regulated. Galactans might provide mechanical stability to the pollen tube, reinforcing those regions that are particularly sensitive to tension stress (the pollen tube–pollen grain joint site) and mechanical damage (the tip). Arabinans and AGPs might be important in recognition and adhesion phenomena of the pollen tube and the stylar transmitting cells, as well as the egg and sperm cells.
PMCID: PMC3718210  PMID: 23712452
arabinogalactan protein; cell wall; Olea europaea; pectin; pollen; pollen tube
15.  Profiling and functional classification of esterases in olive (Olea europaea) pollen during germination 
Annals of Botany  2012;110(5):1035-1045.
Background and Aims
A pollen grain contains a number of esterases, many of which are released upon contact with the stigma surface. However, the identity and function of most of these esterases remain unknown. In this work, esterases from olive pollen during its germination were identifided and functionally characterized.
The esterolytic capacity of olive (Olea europaea) pollen was examined using in vitro and in-gel enzymatic assays with different enzyme substrates. The functional analysis of pollen esterases was achieved by inhibition assays by using specific inhibitors. The cellular localization of esterase activities was performed using histochemical methods.
Key Results
Olive pollen showed high levels of non-specific esterase activity, which remained steady after hydration and germination. Up to 20 esterolytic bands were identified on polyacrylamide gels. All the inhibitors decreased pollen germinability, but only diisopropyl fluorophosphate (DIFP) hampered pollen tube growth. Non-specific esterase activity is localized on the surface of oil bodies (OBs) and small vesicles, in the pollen intine and in the callose layer of the pollen tube wall. Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity was mostly observed in the apertures, exine and pollen coat, and attached to the pollen tube wall surface and to small cytoplasmic vesicles.
In this work, for the first time a systematic functional characterization of esterase enzymes in pollen from a plant species with wet stigma has been carried out. Olive pollen esterases belong to four different functional groups: carboxylesterases, acetylesterases, AChEs and lipases. The cellular localization of esterase activity indicates that the intine is a putative storage site for esterolytic enzymes in olive pollen. Based on inhibition assays and cellular localization of enzymatic activities, it can be concluded that these enzymes are likely to be involved in pollen germination, and pollen tube growth and penetration of the stigma.
PMCID: PMC3448428  PMID: 22922586
Acetylcholinesterases; acetylesterases; carboxylesterases; DIFP; ebelactones; germination; lipases; neostigmine; olive; Olea europaea; pollen; pollen tube; sulfydryl reagents
16.  The PTI1-like kinase ZmPti1a from maize (Zea mays L.) co-localizes with callose at the plasma membrane of pollen and facilitates a competitive advantage to the male gametophyte 
BMC Plant Biology  2006;6:22.
The tomato kinase Pto confers resistance to bacterial speck disease caused by Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato in a gene for gene manner. Upon recognition of specific avirulence factors the Pto kinase activates multiple signal transduction pathways culminating in induction of pathogen defense. The soluble cytoplasmic serine/threonine kinase Pti1 is one target of Pto phosphorylation and is involved in the hypersensitive response (HR) reaction. However, a clear role of Pti1 in plant pathogen resistance is uncertain. So far, no Pti1 homologues from monocotyledonous species have been studied.
Here we report the identification and molecular analysis of four Pti1-like kinases from maize (ZmPti1a, -b, -c, -d). These kinase genes showed tissue-specific expression and their corresponding proteins were targeted to different cellular compartments. Sequence similarity, expression pattern and cellular localization of ZmPti1b suggested that this gene is a putative orthologue of Pti1 from tomato. In contrast, ZmPti1a was specifically expressed in pollen and sequestered to the plasma membrane, evidently owing to N-terminal modification by myristoylation and/or S-acylation. The ZmPti1a:GFP fusion protein was not evenly distributed at the pollen plasma membrane but accumulated as an annulus-like structure which co-localized with callose (1,3-β-glucan) deposition. In addition, co-localization of ZmPti1a and callose was observed during stages of pollen mitosis I and pollen tube germination. Maize plants in which ZmPti1a expression was silenced by RNA interference (RNAi) produced pollen with decreased competitive ability. Hence, our data provide evidence that ZmPti1a plays an important part in a signalling pathway that accelerates pollen performance and male fitness.
ZmPti1a from maize is involved in pollen-specific processes during the progamic phase of reproduction, probably in crucial signalling processes associated with regions of callose deposition. Pollen-sporophyte interactions and pathogen induced HR show certain similarities. For example, HR has been shown to be associated with cell wall reinforcement through callose deposition. Hence, it is hypothesized that Pti1 kinases from maize act as general components in evolutionary conserved signalling processes associated with callose, however during different developmental programs and in different tissue types.
PMCID: PMC1609167  PMID: 17022830
17.  Palynological Variation in Balsaminoid Ericales. I. Marcgraviaceae 
Annals of Botany  2005;96(6):1047-1060.
• Background and Aims Marcgraviaceae are a rather small family of seven genera and approx. 130 neotropical species. This study aims to present a detailed palynological survey of the family in order to comment on the intrafamily relationships and possible correlations with pollinators.
• Methods In total, 119 specimens representing 67 species and all genera are observed using light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy. Furthermore, eight species from five genera are studied with transmission electron microscopy.
• Key Results Our results show that pollen grains of Marcgraviaceae are small (20–35 µm), have three equatorial apertures, granules on the colpus membrane, oblate spheroidal to prolate spheroidal shapes, mainly psilate to perforate ornamentations, and lalongate colpus-shaped thinnings at the inner layer of the exine, and show the presence of orbicules. Based on our fragmentary knowledge of the pollination biology of the family, there are no clear correlations between pollinators and pollen features.
• Conclusions The genus Marcgravia has a high percentage of reticulate sexine patterns and a relatively thin nexine. Sarcopera can be defined by the presence of an oblate spheroidal to even suboblate shape, while Ruyschia and Souroubea typically show prolate spheroidal to subprolate pollen grains. The presence of a thick foot layer in the pollen wall is characteristic of the genera Norantea, Sarcopera and Schwartzia. Pollen features that are taxonomically useful within the family are the shape, sexine sculpturing, and ultrastructure of the pollen wall.
PMCID: PMC4247093  PMID: 16157628
Balsaminoids; Ericales; Marcgraviaceae; neotropics; orbicules; palynology; SEM; TEM
18.  Intersporal Genetic Variation of Gigaspora margarita, a Vesicular Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungus, Revealed by M13 Minisatellite-Primed PCR 
Spores of vesicular arbuscular mycorrhizal (VAM) fungi contain thousands of nuclei. In order to understand the karyotic structure of a VAM fungus spore, the genetic variation of the first generation of spores from a VAM fungus (Gigaspora margarita) was examined. Spores originating from both single- and multispore inoculations of the species G. margarita were analyzed by M13 minisatellite-primed PCR. In both cases, different fingerprints were obtained from individual spores with few spores exhibiting similar fingerprints. These results can be explained only by a heterokaryotic status of the nuclear population within a spore.
PMCID: PMC1389526  PMID: 16535520
19.  Types of Pollen Dispersal Units in Orchids, and their Consequences for Germination and Fertilization 
Annals of Botany  2002;89(6):653-664.
The various pollen dispersal units (PDU) found in orchids are discussed together with possible evolutionary trends and the consequences for germination and fertilization. Orchids with monad and tetrad pollen form more complex dispersal units by means of pollenkitt, elastoviscin, a callosic wall, common walls or a combination of these. Evolutionary trends include (1) from pollenkitt to elastoviscin; (2) from monad to tetrads and multiples of tetrads; (3) from partially dehydrated (<30 %) to partially hydrated (>30 %) pollen; and (4) from monad pollen to PDUs with many pollen grains. The biological consequences concern both male and female reproductive systems. Some features of the male side are present in all orchids irrespective of the pollen dispersal unit, whereas other characters are found only in orchids with pollinia; the same applies for the female counterpart. Pollen grains of orchids with pollinia germinate at least 24 h after pollination because the pollen grains/tetrads must swell and make space for the growth of pollen tubes.
PMCID: PMC4233844  PMID: 12102520
Review; pollen; compound pollen; pollen dispersal; pollination; Orchidaceae
20.  Is Drosera meristocaulis a pygmy sundew? Evidence of a long-distance dispersal between Western Australia and northern South America 
Annals of Botany  2012;110(1):11-21.
Background and aims
South America and Oceania possess numerous floristic similarities, often confirmed by morphological and molecular data. The carnivorous Drosera meristocaulis (Droseraceae), endemic to the Neblina highlands of northern South America, was known to share morphological characters with the pygmy sundews of Drosera sect. Bryastrum, which are endemic to Australia and New Zealand. The inclusion of D. meristocaulis in a molecular phylogenetic analysis may clarify its systematic position and offer an opportunity to investigate character evolution in Droseraceae and phylogeographic patterns between South America and Oceania.
Methods Drosera meristocaulis
was included in a molecular phylogenetic analysis of Droseraceae, using nuclear internal transcribed spacer (ITS) and plastid rbcL and rps16 sequence data. Pollen of D. meristocaulis was studied using light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy techniques, and the karyotype was inferred from root tip meristem.
Key Results
The phylogenetic inferences (maximum parsimony, maximum likelihood and Bayesian approaches) substantiate with high statistical support the inclusion of sect. Meristocaulis and its single species, D. meristocaulis, within the Australian Drosera clade, sister to a group comprising species of sect. Bryastrum. A chromosome number of 2n = approx. 32–36 supports the phylogenetic position within the Australian clade. The undivided styles, conspicuous large setuous stipules, a cryptocotylar (hypogaeous) germination pattern and pollen tetrads with aperture of intermediate type 7–8 are key morphological traits shared between D. meristocaulis and pygmy sundews of sect. Bryastrum from Australia and New Zealand.
The multidisciplinary approach adopted in this study (using morphological, palynological, cytotaxonomic and molecular phylogenetic data) enabled us to elucidate the relationships of the thus far unplaced taxon D. meristocaulis. Long-distance dispersal between southwestern Oceania and northern South America is the most likely scenario to explain the phylogeographic pattern revealed.
PMCID: PMC3380593  PMID: 22641141
Droseraceae; Drosera sect. Bryastrum; America–Oceania disjunction; carnivorous plants; ITS; rbcL; rps16; phylogeny; pollen morphology; germination pattern; chromosome numbers
21.  Cytokinesis in plant male meiosis 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2013;8(3):e23394.
In somatic cell division, cytokinesis is the final step of the cell cycle and physically divides the mother cytoplasm into two daughter cells. In the meiotic cell division, however, pollen mother cells (PMCs) undergo two successive nuclear divisions without an intervening S-phase and consequently generate four haploid daughter nuclei out of one parental cell. In line with this, the physical separation of meiotic nuclei does not follow the conventional cytokinesis pathway, but instead is mediated by alternative processes, including polar-based phragmoplast outgrowth and RMA-mediated cell wall positioning. In this review, we outline the different cytological mechanisms of cell plate formation operating in different types of PMCs and additionally focus on some important features associated with male meiotic cytokinesis, including cytoskeletal dynamics and callose deposition. We also provide an up-to-date overview of the main molecular actors involved in PMC wall formation and additionally highlight some recent advances on the effect of cold stress on meiotic cytokinesis in plants.
PMCID: PMC3676507  PMID: 23333967
cytokinesis; plant meiosis; phragmoplast; RMA; callose
22.  Callose (β-1,3 glucan) is essential for Arabidopsis pollen wall patterning, but not tube growth 
BMC Plant Biology  2005;5:22.
Callose (β-1,3 glucan) separates developing pollen grains, preventing their underlying walls (exine) from fusing. The pollen tubes that transport sperm to female gametes also contain callose, both in their walls as well as in the plugs that segment growing tubes. Mutations in CalS5, one of several Arabidopsis β-1,3 glucan synthases, were previously shown to disrupt callose formation around developing microspores, causing aberrations in exine patterning, degeneration of developing microspores, and pollen sterility.
Here, we describe three additional cals5 alleles that similarly alter exine patterns, but instead produce fertile pollen. Moreover, one of these alleles (cals5-3) resulted in the formation of pollen tubes that lacked callose walls and plugs. In self-pollinated plants, these tubes led to successful fertilization, but they were at a slight disadvantage when competing with wild type.
Contrary to a previous report, these results demonstrate that a structured exine layer is not required for pollen development, viability or fertility. In addition, despite the presence of callose-enriched walls and callose plugs in pollen tubes, the results presented here indicate that callose is not required for pollen tube functions.
PMCID: PMC1274334  PMID: 16212660
23.  Characterization of callase (β-1,3-d-glucanase) activity during microsporogenesis in the sterile anthers of Allium sativum L. and the fertile anthers of A. atropurpureum 
Sexual Plant Reproduction  2012;25(2):123-131.
We examined callase activity in anthers of sterile Allium sativum (garlic) and fertile Allium atropurpureum. In A. sativum, a species that produces sterile pollen and propagates only vegetatively, callase was extracted from the thick walls of A. sativum microspore tetrads exhibited maximum activity at pH 4.8, and the corresponding in vivo values ranged from 4.5 to 5.0. Once microspores were released, in vitro callase activity peaked at three distinct pH values, reflecting the presence of three callase isoforms. One isoform, which was previously identified in the tetrad stage, displayed maximum activity at pH 4.8, and the remaining two isoforms, which were novel, were most active at pH 6.0 and 7.3. The corresponding in vivo values ranged from pH 4.75 to 6.0. In contrast, in A. atropurpureum, a sexually propagating species, three callase isoforms, active at pH 4.8–5.2, 6.1, and 7.3, were identified in samples of microsporangia that had released their microspores. The corresponding in vivo value for this plant was 5.9. The callose wall persists around A. sativum meiotic cells, whereas only one callase isoform, with an optimum activity of pH 4.8, is active in the acidic environment of the microsporangium. However, this isoform is degraded when the pH rises to 6.0 and two other callase isoforms, maximally active at pH 6.0 and 7.3, appear. Thus, factors that alter the pH of the microsporangium may indirectly affect the male gametophyte development by modulating the activity of callase and thereby regulating the degradation of the callose wall.
PMCID: PMC3356687  PMID: 22438078
Allium sativum; Callose wall; β-1; 3-D-glucanase-callase; Microsporogenesis
24.  The Floral Scales in Hellmuthia (Cyperaceae, Cyperoideae) and Paramapania (Cyperaceae, Mapanioideae): An Ontogenetic Study 
Annals of Botany  2006;98(3):619-630.
• Background and Aims In 1976 the monotypic genus Hellmuthia was placed in the Hypolytreae s.l., but was subsequently ascribed to the Mapanioideae, tribe Chrysitricheae, mainly because of the presence in Hellmuthia of two lateral, mapanioid-like floral scales with ciliated keels, the anatomy of the nutlet, the embryo and the inflorescence. Recently, based on cladistic analyses and supported by pollen ontogenetic evidence, Hellmuthia was transferred to a Cyperaceae, tribe Cypereae, clade mainly consisting of Ficinia and Isolepis. In this study, the floral ontogeny in Hellmuthia was investigated and compared with the floral ontogeny in Paramapania, with special attention for the floral scales.
• Methods Freshly collected inflorescences of Hellmuthia membranacea and Paramapania parvibractea were investigated using scanning electron and light microscopy.
• Key Results In the conical ‘spikelet’ in Hellmuthia, proximal bracts occur, each axillating an axis with empty glume-like structures, or a reduced spikelet. Hence, it is a reduced partial inflorescence. In Hellmuthia, the stamen primordia originate before the primordia of the perianth–gynoecium appear. Moreover, a third adaxially positioned ‘floral scale’ was observed for the first time. The position and relative time of appearance of the floral scales in Hellmuthia are typical for perianth parts in Cyperoideae. The basal position of Hellmuthia within a clade of species with usually perianthless flowers, allows the presence of rudiments of a perianth in Hellmuthia to be interpreted as a primitive state. Development of the lateral ‘scales’ in Paramapania follows a different pattern. Therefore, it was decided that the lateral ‘scales’ in Paramapania are different from the lateral perianth parts in Hellmuthia. The pollen grains in Hellmuthia are cyperoid, with one polar and five lateral apertures, of which the membrane is covered with sexinous bodies. The pollen surface is granulate and perforate with microspines.
• Conclusions The floral ontogeny in Hellmuthia occurs according to the general cyperoid pattern. The lateral scales in Hellmuthia are perianth parts, and they are not homologous to the lateral ‘scales’ in Paramapania.
PMCID: PMC2803571  PMID: 16807256
Floral scales; Paramapania; floral ontogeny; Cyperaceae; Hellmuthia; SEM; homology
25.  The role of callose in guard-cell wall differentiation and stomatal pore formation in the fern Asplenium nidus 
Annals of Botany  2009;104(7):1373-1387.
Background and Aims
The pattern of callose deposition was followed in developing stomata of the fern Asplenium nidus to investigate the role of this polysaccharide in guard cell (GC) wall differentiation and stomatal pore formation.
Callose was localized by aniline blue staining and immunolabelling using an antibody against (1 → 3)-β-d-glucan. The study was carried out in stomata of untreated material as well as of material treated with: (1) 2-deoxy-d-glucose (2-DDG) or tunicamycin, which inhibit callose synthesis; (2) coumarin or 2,6-dichlorobenzonitrile (dichlobenil), which block cellulose synthesis; (3) cyclopiazonic acid (CPA), which disturbs cytoplasmic Ca2+ homeostasis; and (d) cytochalasin B or oryzalin, which disintegrate actin filaments and microtubules, respectively.
In post-cytokinetic stomata significant amounts of callose persisted in the nascent ventral wall. Callose then began degrading from the mid-region of the ventral wall towards its periphery, a process which kept pace with the formation of an ‘internal stomatal pore’ by local separation of the partner plasmalemmata. In differentiating GCs, callose was consistently localized in the developing cell-wall thickenings. In 2-DDG-, tunicamycin- and CPA-affected stomata, callose deposition and internal stomatal pore formation were inhibited. The affected ventral walls and GC wall thickenings contained membranous elements. Stomata recovering from the above treatments formed a stomatal pore by a mechanism different from that in untreated stomata. After coumarin or dichlobenil treatment, callose was retained in the nascent ventral wall for longer than in control stomata, while internal stomatal pore formation was blocked. Actin filament disintegration inhibited internal stomatal pore formation, without any effect on callose deposition.
In A. nidus stomata the time and pattern of callose deposition and degradation play an essential role in internal stomatal pore formation, and callose participates in deposition of the local GC wall thickenings.
PMCID: PMC2778399  PMID: 19825878
Asplenium nidus; callose; stomatal pore formation; guard cell wall differentiation

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