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1.  The Effect of Heat Stress on Tomato Pollen Characteristics is Associated with Changes in Carbohydrate Concentration in the Developing Anthers 
Annals of Botany  2002;90(5):631-636.
Continuous exposure of tomato ‘Trust’ to high temperatures (day/night temperatures of 32/26 °C) markedly reduced the number of pollen grains per flower and decreased viability. The effect of heat stress on pollen viability was associated with alterations in carbohydrate metabolism in various parts of the anther during its development. Under control, favourable temperature conditions (28/22 °C), starch accumulated in the pollen grains, where it reached a maximum value 3 d before anthesis; it then diminished towards anthesis. During anther development, the concentration of total soluble sugars gradually increased in the anther walls and in the pollen grains (but not in the locular fluid), reaching a maximum at anthesis. Continuous exposure of the plants to high temperatures (32/26 °C) prevented the transient increase in starch concentration and led to decreases in the concentrations of soluble sugars in the anther walls and the pollen grains. In the locular fluid, however, a higher soluble sugar concentration was detected under the high‐temperature regime throughout anther development. These results suggest that a major effect of heat stress on pollen development is a decrease in starch concentration 3 d before anthesis, which results in a decreased sugar concentration in the mature pollen grains. These events possibly contribute to the decreased pollen viability in tomato.
PMCID: PMC4240456  PMID: 12466104
Anther development; carbohydrate; heat stress; pollen; starch; temperature stress
2.  Fructokinase and Hexokinase from Pollen Grains of Bell Pepper (Capsicum annuum L.): Possible Role in Pollen Germination under Conditions of High Temperature and CO2 Enrichment 
Annals of Botany  2002;90(5):607-612.
The processes of pollen grain development and germination depend on the uptake and metabolism of pollen sugars. In pepper (Capsicum annuum L.), initial sugar metabolism includes sucrose hydrolysis by invertase and subsequent phosphorylation of glucose and fructose by hexose kinases. The main objective of this study was to investigate changes in fructokinase (EC and hexokinase (EC. activities in pepper flowers during their development, and to study the possible roles of these enzymes in determining pollen germination capacity under high temperature and under CO2 enrichment, previously shown to modify sugar concentrations in pepper pollen (Aloni et al., 2001 Physiologia Plantarum 112: 505–512). Fructokinase (FK) activity was predominant in pepper pollen, and increased during pollen maturation. Pollen hexokinase (HK) activity was low and did not change throughout pollen development. High‐temperature treatment (day/night, 32/26 °C) of pepper plants reduced the percentage of pollen that germinated compared with that under normal temperatures (26/22 °C), and concomitantly reduced the activity of FK in mature pollen. High temperature also reduced FK and HK activity in the anther. Under high ambient CO2 (800 µl l–1) pollen FK activity was enhanced. The results suggest that pollen and anther FK may play a role in the regulation of pollen germination, possibly by providing fructose‐6‐phosphate for glycolysis, or through conversion to UDP‐glucose (UDPG) to support the biosynthesis of cell wall material for pollen tube growth. High temperature stress and CO2 enrichment may influence pollen germination capacity by affecting these pathways.
PMCID: PMC4240450  PMID: 12466101
(Capsicum annuum L.); pollen; fructokinase; hexokinase; high temperature
3.  Development of a regional-scale pollen emission and transport modeling framework for investigating the impact of climate change on allergic airway disease 
Biogeosciences (Online)  2013;10(3):3977-4023.
Exposure to bioaerosol allergens such as pollen can cause exacerbations of allergenic airway disease (AAD) in sensitive populations, and thus cause serious public health problems. Assessing these health impacts by linking the airborne pollen levels, concentrations of respirable allergenic material, and human allergenic response under current and future climate conditions is a key step toward developing preventive and adaptive actions. To that end, a regional-scale pollen emission and transport modeling framework was developed that treats allergenic pollens as non-reactive tracers within the WRF/CMAQ air-quality modeling system. The Simulator of the Timing and Magnitude of Pollen Season (STaMPS) model was used to generate a daily pollen pool that can then be emitted into the atmosphere by wind. The STaMPS is driven by species-specific meteorological (temperature and/or precipitation) threshold conditions and is designed to be flexible with respect to its representation of vegetation species and plant functional types (PFTs). The hourly pollen emission flux was parameterized by considering the pollen pool, friction velocity, and wind threshold values. The dry deposition velocity of each species of pollen was estimated based on pollen grain size and density. An evaluation of the pollen modeling framework was conducted for southern California for the period from March to June 2010. This period coincided with observations by the University of Southern California's Children's Health Study (CHS), which included O3, PM2.5, and pollen count, as well as measurements of exhaled nitric oxide in study participants. Two nesting domains with horizontal resolutions of 12 km and 4 km were constructed, and six representative allergenic pollen genera were included: birch tree, walnut tree, mulberry tree, olive tree, oak tree, and brome grasses. Under the current parameterization scheme, the modeling framework tends to underestimate walnut and peak oak pollen concentrations, and tends to overestimate grass pollen concentrations. The model shows reasonable agreement with observed birch, olive, and mulberry tree pollen concentrations. Sensitivity studies suggest that the estimation of the pollen pool is a major source of uncertainty for simulated pollen concentrations. Achieving agreement between emission modeling and observed pattern of pollen releases is the key for successful pollen concentration simulations.
PMCID: PMC4021721  PMID: 24839448
4.  Fused lobed anther and hooked stigma affect pollination, fertilization and fruit set in mango 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2013;8(3):e23167.
Mango malformation is the most threaten disease that limits mango production, worldwide. For a long time, due to its complex nature, the cause and causal agents were strongly disputed. Diverse Fusaria, including Fusarium mangiferae, are known to be associated with the disease. There are indications that augmented level of endogenous ethylene in response to various abiotic and biotic stresses alters the morphology of reproductive organs. Here, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) of healthy and malformed reproductive organs of mango cv. Baramasi was performed to compare the functional morphology. The SEM study revealed that anthers of hermaphrodite healthy flowers were bilobed with large number of turgid pollen grains whereas malformed flowers showed fused lobed anthers with scanty deformed pollen grains. Furthermore, the stigma of healthy flowers exhibited a broad landing pad as compared to malformed stigma which showed hooked and pointed tip. All these impaired morphology of male and female reproductive organs lead to failure of sexual reproduction. This is the first evidence to show fused lobed anther with impaired pollen grains and hooked stigma with poor stigmatic receptivity are mainly responsible for restricting the pollen germination and pollen tube growth. Here we suggest that abnormal development of anthers and pistils is due to endogenously produced stress ethylene. Further, added load of cyanide, a byproduct of ethylene biosynthesis, may also contribute to the development of necrosis which lead to desiccation of anther and pistil during hypersensitive response of plants.
PMCID: PMC3676485  PMID: 23299320
Anther; mango malformation; pollen; scanning electron microscopy; stigma; stress ethylene
5.  Transcriptional profiling of maturing tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) microspores reveals the involvement of heat shock proteins, ROS scavengers, hormones, and sugars in the heat stress response 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2009;60(13):3891-3908.
Above-optimal temperatures reduce yield in tomato largely because of the high heat stress (HS) sensitivity of the developing pollen grains. The high temperature response, especially at this most HS-sensitive stage of the plant, is poorly understood. To obtain an overview of molecular mechanisms underlying the HS response (HSR) of microspores, a detailed transcriptomic analysis of heat-stressed maturing tomato microspores was carried out using a combination of Affymetrix Tomato Genome Array and cDNA-amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) techniques. The results were corroborated by reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR) and immunoblot analyses. The data obtained reveal the involvement of specific members of the small heat shock protein (HSP) gene family, HSP70 and HSP90, in addition to the HS transcription factors A2 (HSFA2) and HSFA3, as well as factors other than the classical HS-responsive genes. The results also indicate HS regulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavengers, sugars, plant hormones, and regulatory genes that were previously implicated in other types of stress. The use of cDNA-AFLP enabled the detection of genes representing pollen-specific functions that are missing from the tomato Affymetrix chip, such as those involved in vesicle-mediated transport and a pollen-specific, calcium-dependent protein kinase (CDPK2). For several genes, including LeHSFA2, LeHSP17.4-CII, as well as homologues of LeHSP90 and AtVAMP725, higher basal expression levels were detected in microspores of cv. Hazera 3042 (a heat-tolerant cultivar) compared with microspores of cv. Hazera 3017 (a heat-sensitive cultivar), marking these genes as candidates for taking part in microspore thermotolerance. This work provides a comprehensive analysis of the molecular events underlying the HSR of maturing microspores of a crop plant, tomato.
PMCID: PMC2736902  PMID: 19628571
cDNA-AFLP; gene expression; heat stress response; microarray; microspore maturation; tomato
6.  The Metabolic Basis of Pollen Thermo-Tolerance: Perspectives for Breeding 
Metabolites  2014;4(4):889-920.
Crop production is highly sensitive to elevated temperatures. A rise of a few degrees above the optimum growing temperature can lead to a dramatic yield loss. A predicted increase of 1–3 degrees in the twenty first century urges breeders to develop thermo-tolerant crops which are tolerant to high temperatures. Breeding for thermo-tolerance is a challenge due to the low heritability of this trait. A better understanding of heat stress tolerance and the development of reliable methods to phenotype thermo-tolerance are key factors for a successful breeding approach. Plant reproduction is the most temperature-sensitive process in the plant life cycle. More precisely, pollen quality is strongly affected by heat stress conditions. High temperature leads to a decrease of pollen viability which is directly correlated with a loss of fruit production. The reduction in pollen viability is associated with changes in the level and composition of several (groups of) metabolites, which play an important role in pollen development, for example by contributing to pollen nutrition or by providing protection to environmental stresses. This review aims to underline the importance of maintaining metabolite homeostasis during pollen development, in order to produce mature and fertile pollen under high temperature. The review will give an overview of the current state of the art on the role of various pollen metabolites in pollen homeostasis and thermo-tolerance. Their possible use as metabolic markers to assist breeding programs for plant thermo-tolerance will be discussed.
PMCID: PMC4279151  PMID: 25271355
pollen; heat stress; thermotolerance; high temperature; metabolite; breeding
7.  Water status and associated processes mark critical stages in pollen development and functioning 
Annals of Botany  2012;109(7):1201-1214.
The male gametophyte developmental programme can be divided into five phases which differ in relation to the environment and pollen hydration state: (1) pollen develops inside the anther immersed in locular fluid, which conveys substances from the mother plant – the microsporogenesis phase; (2) locular fluid disappears by reabsorption and/or evaporation before the anther opens and the maturing pollen grains undergo dehydration – the dehydration phase; (3) the anther opens and pollen may be dispersed immediately, or be held by, for example, pollenkitt (as occurs in almost all entomophilous species) for later dispersion – the presentation phase; (4) pollen is dispersed by different agents, remaining exposed to the environment for different periods – the dispersal phase; and (5) pollen lands on a stigma and, in the case of a compatible stigma and suitable conditions, undergoes rehydration and starts germination – the pollen–stigma interaction phase.
This review highlights the issue of pollen water status and indicates the various mechanisms used by pollen grains during their five developmental phases to adjust to changes in water content and maintain internal stability.
Pollen water status is co-ordinated through structural, physiological and molecular mechanisms. The structural components participating in regulation of the pollen water level, during both dehydration and rehydration, include the exine (the outer wall of the pollen grain) and the vacuole. Recent data suggest the involvement of water channels in pollen water transport and the existence of several molecular mechanisms for pollen osmoregulation and to protect cellular components (proteins and membranes) under water stress. It is suggested that pollen grains will use these mechanisms, which have a developmental role, to cope with environmental stress conditions.
PMCID: PMC3359924  PMID: 22523424
Pollen; water status; dehydration; rehydration; angiosperm pollen; pollination
8.  Genome-scale analysis and comparison of gene expression profiles in developing and germinated pollen in Oryza sativa 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:338.
Pollen development from the microspore involves a series of coordinated cellular events, and the resulting mature pollen has a specialized function to quickly germinate, produce a polar-growth pollen tube derived from the vegetative cell, and deliver two sperm cells into the embryo sac for double fertilization. The gene expression profiles of developing and germinated pollen have been characterised by use of the eudicot model plant Arabidopsis. Rice, one of the most important cereal crops, has been used as an excellent monocot model. A comprehensive analysis of transcriptome profiles of developing and germinated pollen in rice is important to understand the conserved and diverse mechanism underlying pollen development and germination in eudicots and monocots.
We used Affymetrix GeneChip® Rice Genome Array to comprehensively analyzed the dynamic changes in the transcriptomes of rice pollen at five sequential developmental stages from microspores to germinated pollen. Among the 51,279 transcripts on the array, we found 25,062 pollen-preferential transcripts, among which 2,203 were development stage-enriched. The diversity of transcripts decreased greatly from microspores to mature and germinated pollen, whereas the number of stage-enriched transcripts displayed a "U-type" change, with the lowest at the bicellular pollen stage; and a transition of overrepresented stage-enriched transcript groups associated with different functional categories, which indicates a shift in gene expression program at the bicellular pollen stage. About 54% of the now-annotated rice F-box protein genes were expressed preferentially in pollen. The transcriptome profile of germinated pollen was significantly and positively correlated with that of mature pollen. Analysis of expression profiles and coexpressed features of the pollen-preferential transcripts related to cell cycle, transcription, the ubiquitin/26S proteasome system, phytohormone signalling, the kinase system and defense/stress response revealed five expression patterns, which are compatible with changes in major cellular events during pollen development and germination. A comparison of pollen transcriptomes between rice and Arabidopsis revealed that 56.6% of the rice pollen preferential genes had homologs in Arabidopsis genome, but 63.4% of these homologs were expressed, with a small proportion being expressed preferentially, in Arabidopsis pollen. Rice and Arabidopsis pollen had non-conservative transcription factors each.
Our results demonstrated that rice pollen expressed a set of reduced but specific transcripts in comparison with vegetative tissues, and the number of stage-enriched transcripts displayed a "U-type" change during pollen development, with the lowest at the bicellular pollen stage. These features are conserved in rice and Arabidopsis. The shift in gene expression program at the bicellular pollen stage may be important to the transition from earlier cell division to later pollen maturity. Pollen at maturity pre-synthesized transcripts needed for germination and early pollen tube growth. The transcription regulation associated with pollen development would have divergence between the two species. Our results also provide novel insights into the molecular program and key components of the regulatory network regulating pollen development and germination.
PMCID: PMC2895629  PMID: 20507633
9.  Nitric Oxide Participates in Cold-Inhibited Camellia sinensis Pollen Germination and Tube Growth Partly via cGMP In Vitro 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e52436.
Nitric oxide (NO) plays essential roles in many biotic and abiotic stresses in plant development procedures, including pollen tube growth. Here, effects of NO on cold stress inhibited pollen germination and tube growth in Camellia sinensis were investigated in vitro. The NO production, NO synthase (NOS)-like activity, cGMP content and proline (Pro) accumulation upon treatment with NO scavenger cPTIO, NOS inhibitor L-NNA, NO donor DEA NONOate, guanylate cyclase (GC) inhibitor ODQ or phosphodiesterase (PDE) inhibitor Viagra at 25°C (control) or 4°C were analyzed. Exposure to 4°C for 2 h reduced pollen germination and tube growth along with increase of NOS-like activity, NO production and cGMP content in pollen tubes. DEA NONOate treatment inhibited pollen germination and tube growth in a dose-dependent manner under control and reinforced the inhibition under cold stress, during which NO production and cGMP content promoted in pollen tubes. L-NNA and cPTIO markedly reduced the generation of NO induced by cold or NO donor along with partly reverse of cold- or NO donor-inhibited pollen germination and tube growth. Furthermore, ODQ reduced the cGMP content under cold stress and NO donor treatment in pollen tubes. Meanwhile, ODQ disrupted the reinforcement of NO donor on the inhibition of pollen germination and tube growth under cold condition. Additionally, Pro accumulation of pollen tubes was reduced by ODQ compared with that receiving NO donor under cold or control condition. Effects of cPTIO and L-NNA in improving cold-treated pollen germination and pollen tube growth could be lowered by Viagra. Moreover, the inhibitory effects of cPTIO and L-NNA on Pro accumulation were partly reversed by Viagra. These data suggest that NO production from NOS-like enzyme reaction decreased the cold-responsive pollen germination, inhibited tube growth and reduced Pro accumulation, partly via cGMP signaling pathway in C. sinensis.
PMCID: PMC3525538  PMID: 23272244
10.  Protein Phosphatase 2A Controls Ethylene Biosynthesis by Differentially Regulating the Turnover of ACC Synthase Isoforms 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(4):e1001370.
The gaseous hormone ethylene is one of the master regulators of development and physiology throughout the plant life cycle. Ethylene biosynthesis is stringently regulated to permit maintenance of low levels during most phases of vegetative growth but to allow for rapid peaks of high production at developmental transitions and under stress conditions. In most tissues ethylene is a negative regulator of cell expansion, thus low basal levels of ethylene biosynthesis in dark-grown seedlings are critical for optimal cell expansion during early seedling development. The committed steps in ethylene biosynthesis are performed by the enzymes 1-aminocyclopropane 1-carboxylate synthase (ACS) and 1-aminocyclopropane 1-carboxylate oxidase (ACO). The abundance of different ACS enzymes is tightly regulated both by transcriptional control and by post-translational modifications and proteasome-mediated degradation. Here we show that specific ACS isozymes are targets for regulation by protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) during Arabidopsis thaliana seedling growth and that reduced PP2A function causes increased ACS activity in the roots curl in 1-N-naphthylphthalamic acid 1 (rcn1) mutant. Genetic analysis reveals that ethylene overproduction in PP2A-deficient plants requires ACS2 and ACS6, genes that encode ACS proteins known to be stabilized by phosphorylation, and proteolytic turnover of the ACS6 protein is retarded when PP2A activity is reduced. We find that PP2A and ACS6 proteins associate in seedlings and that RCN1-containing PP2A complexes specifically dephosphorylate a C-terminal ACS6 phosphopeptide. These results suggest that PP2A-dependent destabilization requires RCN1-dependent dephosphorylation of the ACS6 C-terminus. Surprisingly, rcn1 plants exhibit decreased accumulation of the ACS5 protein, suggesting that a regulatory phosphorylation event leads to ACS5 destabilization. Our data provide new insight into the circuitry that ensures dynamic control of ethylene synthesis during plant development, showing that PP2A mediates a finely tuned regulation of overall ethylene production by differentially affecting the stability of specific classes of ACS enzymes.
Author Summary
Like animals, plants produce a number of substances that regulate growth and coordinate developmental transitions and responses to environmental signals. Ethylene gas is one such regulator of the plant life cycle, playing important roles in fruit ripening, pathogen defenses, and the regulation of cell expansion. Because overall plant form is determined largely by the degree and directionality of cell expansion, ethylene is a crucial regulator of morphology, and ethylene production must be maintained at low levels during phases of rapid cell expansion, such as early seedling growth. Recent work has identified molecular mechanisms that target ethylene biosynthetic enzymes for proteolytic degradation; this degradation plays a key role in controlling ethylene production. Here we exploit the molecular genetic resources available in the Arabidopsis thaliana system to identify a highly conserved protein complex that dephosphorylates target proteins as a new component of the mechanism that regulates degradation of ethylene-producing enzymes. Our findings show that protein phosphatase 2A plays a nuanced role in this regulatory circuit, with both positive and negative inputs into the stability of specific proteins that drive ethylene biosynthesis. This work enhances our understanding of the mechanisms that enforce adaptive levels of hormone production in plants.
PMCID: PMC3080859  PMID: 21533019
11.  ROS generated by pollen NADPH oxidase provide a signal that augments antigen-induced allergic airway inflammation 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2005;115(8):2169-2179.
Pollen exposure induces allergic airway inflammation in sensitized subjects. The role of antigenic pollen proteins in the induction of allergic airway inflammation is well characterized, but the contribution of other constituents in pollen grains to this process is unknown. Here we show that pollen grains and their extracts contain intrinsic NADPH oxidases. The pollen NADPH oxidases rapidly increased the levels of ROS in lung epithelium as well as the amount of oxidized glutathione (GSSG) and 4-hydroxynonenal (4-HNE) in airway-lining fluid. These oxidases, as well as products of oxidative stress (such as GSSG and 4-HNE) generated by these enzymes, induced neutrophil recruitment to the airways independent of the adaptive immune response. Removal of pollen NADPH oxidase activity from the challenge material reduced antigen-induced allergic airway inflammation, the number of mucin-containing cells in airway epithelium, and antigen-specific IgE levels in sensitized mice. Furthermore, challenge with Amb a 1, the major antigen in ragweed pollen extract that does not possess NADPH oxidase activity, induced low-grade allergic airway inflammation. Addition of GSSG or 4-HNE to Amb a 1 challenge material boosted allergic airway inflammation. We propose that oxidative stress generated by pollen NADPH oxidases (signal 1) augments allergic airway inflammation induced by pollen antigen (signal 2).
PMCID: PMC1180538  PMID: 16075057
12.  Soybean (Glycine max) Pollen Germination Characteristics, Flower and Pollen Morphology in Response to Enhanced Ultraviolet-B Radiation 
Annals of Botany  2004;94(6):855-864.
• Background and Aims Ultraviolet-B (UV-B) radiation effect on reproductive parts of the plants has received little attention. We studied the influence of UV-B radiation on flower and pollen morphology, pollen production and in vitro pollen germination and tube growth of six genotypes of soybean (Glycine max).
• Methods Soybean genotypes were investigated by growing them under four levels of biologically effective UV-B radiation of 0 (control), 5, 10 and 15 kJ m−2 d−1 in sunlit controlled-environment chambers.
• Key Results Reductions in lengths of flower, standard petal, and staminal column along with reduced pollen production, germination and tube growth were observed in all genotypes with increasing UV-B radiation. Combined response index (CRI), the sum of percentage relative responses in flower size, pollen production, pollen germination and tube growth due to UV-B radiation varied with UV-B dosage: −67 to −152 with 5 kJ m−2 d−1, −90 to −212 with 10 kJ m−2 d−1, and −118 to −248 with 15 kJ m−2 d−1 of UV-B compared to controls. Genotypes were classified based on the UV-B sensitivity index (USI) calculated as CRI per unit UV-B, where D 90-9216, DG 5630RR and D 88-5320 were classified as tolerant (USI > −7·43), and DP 4933RR, Stalwart III and PI 471938 were sensitive (USI < −7·43) in their response to UV-B radiation. Pollen grains produced in plants grown at 15 kJ m−2 d−1 UV-B radiation were shrivelled and lacked apertures compared to control and other UV-B treatments in both sensitive and tolerant genotypes, and the differences were more conspicuous in the sensitive genotype (PI 471938) than in the tolerant genotype (D 90-9216). The number of columellae heads of the exine was reduced with increasing UV-B radiation.
• Conclusions Soybean genotypes varied in their reproductive response to UV-B radiation. The identified UV-B tolerant genotypes could be used in future breeding programmes.
PMCID: PMC4242279  PMID: 15466876
Floral morphology; Glycine max; pollen germination; pollen morphology; ultraviolet-B radiation
13.  ATR–FTIR spectroscopy reveals involvement of lipids and proteins of intact pea pollen grains to heat stress tolerance 
With climate change, pea will be more frequently subjected to heat stress in semi-arid regions like Saskatchewan during flowering. The pollen germination percentage of two pea cultivars was reduced by heat stress (36°C) with an important decrease in cultivar ‘CDC Golden’ compared to ‘CDC Sage.’ Lipids, protein and other pollen coat compositions of whole intact pollen grains of both pea cultivars were investigated using mid infrared (mid-IR) attenuated total reflectance (ATR)–Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. Curve fitting of ATR absorbance spectra in the protein region enabled estimation and comparison of different protein secondary structures between the two cultivars. CDC Sage had relatively greater amounts of α-helical structures (48.6–43.6%; band at 1654 cm-1) and smaller amounts of β-sheets (41.3–46%) than CDC Golden. The CDC Golden had higher amounts of β-sheets (46.3–51.7%) compared to α-helical structures (35.3–36.2%). Further, heat stress resulted in prominent changes in the symmetrical and asymmetrical CH2 bands from lipid acyl chain, ester carbonyl band, and carbohydrate region. The intensity of asymmetric and symmetric CH2 vibration of heat stressed CDC Golden was reduced considerably in comparison to the control and the decrease was higher compared to CDC Sage. In addition, CDC Golden showed an increase in intensity at the oxidative band of 3015 cm-1. These results reveal that the whole pollen grains of both pea cultivars responded differently to heat stress. The tolerance of CDC Sage to heat stress (expressed as pollen germination percentage) may be due to its protein richness with α-helical structures which would protect against the destructive effects of dehydration due to heat stress. The low pollen germination percentage of CDC Golden after heat stress may be also due to its sensitivity to lipid changes due to heat stress.
PMCID: PMC4273626  PMID: 25566312
lipids; protein secondary structures; pollen grains; pea; heat stress; infrared ATR–FTIR spectroscopy
14.  Pollen density on the stigma affects endogenous gibberellin metabolism, seed and fruit set, and fruit quality in Pyrus pyrifolia 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2010;61(15):4291-4302.
To clarify the relationship between pollen density and gametophytic competition in Pyrus pyrifolia, gametophytic performance, gibberellin metabolism, fruit set, and fruit quality were investigated by modifying P. pyrifolia pollen grain number and density with Lycopodium spores. Higher levels of pollen density improved seed viability, fruit set, and fruit quality. Treatments with the highest pollen density showed a significantly increased fruit growth rate and larger fruit at harvest. High pollen density increased germination rate and gave a faster pollen tube growth, both in vivo and in vitro. Endogenous gibberellin (GA) concentrations increased in pollen tubes soon after germination and the concentration of two growth-active GAs, GA3, and GA4, was positively correlated to final fruit size, cell numbers in the mesocarp, and pollen tube growth rate. These two GAs appear to be biosynthesized de novo in pollen tube and are the main pollen-derived bioactive GAs found after pollen germination. GA1 levels in the pollen tube appear to be related to a pollen–style interaction that occurred after the pollen grains landed on the stigma.
PMCID: PMC2955744  PMID: 20713466
Gametophytic competition; gibberellins; pollen density; pollination; Pyrus pyrifolia
15.  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
16.  Among-species differences in pollen quality and quantity limitation: implications for endemics in biodiverse hotspots 
Annals of Botany  2013;112(7):1461-1469.
Background and Aims
Insufficient pollination is a function of quantity and quality of pollen receipt, and the relative contribution of each to pollen limitation may vary with intrinsic plant traits and extrinsic ecological properties. Community-level studies are essential to evaluate variation across species in quality limitation under common ecological conditions. This study examined whether endemic species are more limited by pollen quantity or quality than non-endemic co-flowering species in three endemic-rich plant communities located in biodiversity hotspots of different continents (Andalusia, California and Yucatan).
Natural variations in pollen receipt and pollen tube formation were analysed for 20 insect-pollinated plants. Endemic and non-endemic species that co-flowered were paired in order to estimate and compare the quantity and quality components of pre-zygotic pollination success, obtained through piecewise regression analysis of the relationship between pollen grains and pollen tubes of naturally pollinated wilted flowers.
Key Results
Pollen tubes did not frequently exceed the number of ovules per flower. Only the combination of abundant and good quality pollen and a low number of ovules per flower conferred relief from pre-zygotic pollen limitation in the three stochastic pollination environments studied. Quality of pollen receipt was found to be as variable as quantity among study species. The relative pollination success of endemic and non-endemic species, and its quantity and quality components, was community dependent.
Assessing both quality and quantity of pollen receipt is key to determining the ovule fertilization potential of both endemic and widespread plants in biodiverse hotspot regions. Large natural variation among flowers of the same species in the two components and pollen tube formation deserves further analysis in order to estimate the environmental, phenotypic and intraindividual sources of variation that may affect how plants evolve to overcome this limitation in different communities worldwide.
PMCID: PMC3806542  PMID: 24061490
Co-flowering community; Mediterranean; piecewise regression; pollen limitation; pollen tubes; pollination; stigmatic pollen load; Yucatan
17.  Immunological Interactive Effects between Pollen Grains and Their Cytoplasmic Granules on Brown Norway Rats 
Grass pollen is one of the most important aeroallergen vectors in Europe. Under some meteorological factors, pollen grains can release pollen cytoplasmic granules (PCGs). PCGs induce allergic responses. Several studies have shown that during a period of thunderstorms the number of patients with asthma increases because of higher airborne concentrations of PCGs.
The aims of the study were to assess the allergenicity of interactive effects between pollen and PCGs and to compare it with allergenicity of Timothy grass pollen and PCGs in Brown Norway rats.
Rats were sensitized (day 0) and challenged (day 21) with pollen grains and/or PCGs. Four groups were studied: pollen-pollen (PP), PCGs-PCGs (GG), pollen-PCGs (PG), and PCGs-pollen (GP). Blood samples, bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, and bronchial lymph node were collected at day 25. IgE and IgG1 levels in sera were assessed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Alveolar cells, protein, and cytokine concentrations were quantified in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. T-cell proliferation, in response to pollen or granules, was performed by lymph node assay.
Interactive effects between pollen and PCGs increased IgE and IgG1 levels when compared with those of the negative control. These increases were lower than those of the PP group but similar to the levels obtained by the GG group. Whatever was used in the sensitization and/or challenge phase, PCGs increased lymphocyte and Rantes levels compared with those of the pollen group. The interactive effects increased IL-1α and IL-1β compared with those of the PP and GG groups.
Immunologic interactive effects have been shown between pollen and PCGs. For humoral and cellular allergic responses, interactive effects between the 2 aeroallergenic sources used in this study seem to be influenced mainly by PCGs.
PMCID: PMC3650983  PMID: 23283149
immunologic interactive effects; timothy grass pollen; pollen cytoplasmic granules; allergy; inflammation
18.  Comparative morphology, biology and histology of reproductive development in three lines of Manihot esculenta Crantz (Euphorbiaceae: Crotonoideae) 
AoB Plants  2013;5:pls046.
Cassava flowering with emphasis on flowering pattern, morphology and phenology; pollen biology on viability and dimorphism, and histology on male and female gametophyte development are demonstrated. Reduced pollen viability at anthesis and the existence of pollen tri-morphism are the key findings.
Background and aims
Cassava (Manihot esculenta), a major food staple in the tropics and subtropics, thrives even in environments undergoing threatening climate change. To satisfy the increasing demand for crop improvement and overcome the limitations of conventional breeding, the introduction of inbreeding techniques such as the production of doubled haploid lines via androgenesis or gynogenesis offers advantages. However, comprehensive studies on cassava flower bud biology or structural development are lacking and precise structural and biological information is a prerequisite to enhance the efficiency of these techniques.
The floral biology of three selected cassava lines was studied, focusing on morphology, phenology and pollen biology (quantity, viability and dimorphism). Histological studies were also conducted on microsporogenesis/microgametogenesis and megasporogenesis/megagameto-genesis to generate precise developmental data for these lines.
Principal results
Male and female cyathia have distinct developmental phases. Pollen viability was high during immature stages of plant development; however, pollen mortality was common at later stages. Pollen trimorphism in male gametophytes towards the larger or smaller pollen size, as compared with normal size, was observed. Ten characteristic events were identified in male gametogenesis and six in female gametogenesis that were correlated with flower bud diameter. Male gametophyte diameter at different developmental stages was also determined.
Results indicate that the three lines did not differ significantly, except regarding a few morphological aspects such as plant height, flower colour and number of male cyathia. Pollen grains were initially viable, but viability decreased drastically at later stages of growth. Abnormal meiosis or mitosis triggered pollen trimorphism. The demonstrated sequential events of reproductive development generated valuable information at the cellular level, which will help close the current information gap for cassava improvement via breeding programmes and doubled haploid plant production.
PMCID: PMC3551401  PMID: 23346343
19.  Annexin5 Plays a Vital Role in Arabidopsis Pollen Development via Ca2+-Dependent Membrane Trafficking 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102407.
The regulation of pollen development and pollen tube growth is a complicated biological process that is crucial for sexual reproduction in flowering plants. Annexins are widely distributed from protists to higher eukaryotes and play multiple roles in numerous cellular events by acting as a putative “linker” between Ca2+ signaling, the actin cytoskeleton and the membrane, which are required for pollen development and pollen tube growth. Our recent report suggested that downregulation of the function of Arabidopsis annexin 5 (Ann5) in transgenic Ann5-RNAi lines caused severely sterile pollen grains. However, little is known about the underlying mechanisms of the function of Ann5 in pollen. This study demonstrated that Ann5 associates with phospholipid membrane and this association is stimulated by Ca2+ in vitro. Brefeldin A (BFA) interferes with endomembrane trafficking and inhibits pollen germination and pollen tube growth. Both pollen germination and pollen tube growth of Ann5-overexpressing plants showed increased resistance to BFA treatment, and this effect was regulated by calcium. Overexpression of Ann5 promoted Ca2+-dependent cytoplasmic streaming in pollen tubes in vivo in response to BFA. Lactrunculin (LatB) significantly prohibited pollen germination and tube growth by binding with high affinity to monomeric actin and preferentially targeting dynamic actin filament arrays and preventing actin polymerization. Overexpression of Ann5 did not affect pollen germination or pollen tube growth in response to LatB compared with wild-type, although Ann5 interacts with actin filaments in a manner similar to some animal annexins. In addition, the sterile pollen phenotype could be only partially rescued by Ann5 mutants at Ca2+-binding sites when compared to the complete recovery by wild-type Ann5. These data demonstrated that Ann5 is involved in pollen development, germination and pollen tube growth through the promotion of endomembrane trafficking modulated by calcium. Our results provide reliable molecular mechanisms that underlie the function of Ann5 in pollen.
PMCID: PMC4097066  PMID: 25019283
20.  Phosphorylation of a WRKY Transcription Factor by MAPKs Is Required for Pollen Development and Function in Arabidopsis 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(5):e1004384.
Plant male gametogenesis involves complex and dynamic changes in gene expression. At present, little is known about the transcription factors involved in this process and how their activities are regulated. Here, we show that a pollen-specific transcription factor, WRKY34, and its close homolog, WRKY2, are required for male gametogenesis in Arabidopsis thaliana. When overexpressed using LAT52, a strong pollen-specific promoter, epitope-tagged WRKY34 is temporally phosphorylated by MPK3 and MPK6, two mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs, or MPKs), at early stages in pollen development. During pollen maturation, WRKY34 is dephosphorylated and degraded. Native promoter-driven WRKY34-YFP fusion also follows the same expression pattern at the protein level. WRKY34 functions redundantly with WRKY2 in pollen development, germination, and pollen tube growth. Loss of MPK3/MPK6 phosphorylation sites in WRKY34 compromises the function of WRKY34 in vivo. Epistasis interaction analysis confirmed that MPK6 belongs to the same genetic pathway of WRKY34 and WRKY2. Our study demonstrates the importance of temporal post-translational regulation of WRKY transcription factors in the control of developmental phase transitions in plants.
Author Summary
Pollen development, or male gametogenesis, is a process by which a haploid uninucleate microspore undergoes cell division and specification to form a mature pollen grain containing two sperm cells. The highly defined cell linage makes pollen development an ideal model to understand the regulation of plant cellular development. Pollen development has multiple phases and involves dynamic changes in gene expression, which highlights the importance of transcription factors and their regulatory pathway(s). In this report, we demonstrate that WRKY34 and WRKY2, two closely related WRKY transcription factors in Arabidopsis, play important roles in pollen development. WRKY34 is phosphorylated by MPK3/MPK6, two functionally redundant mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs or MPKs), at early stages in pollen development. Utilizing a combination of genetic, biochemical, and cytological tools, we determined that this MAPK-WRKY signaling module functions at the early stage of pollen development. Loss of function of this pathway reduces pollen viability, and the surviving pollen has poor germination and reduced pollen tube growth, all of which reduce the transmission rate of the mutant pollen. This study discovers a novel stage-specific signaling pathway in pollen development.
PMCID: PMC4022456  PMID: 24830428
21.  How does timing, duration and severity of heat stress influence pollen-pistil interactions in angiosperms? 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2011;6(7):930-933.
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.
PMCID: PMC3257764  PMID: 21628998
pollen-pistil interaction; carbohydrates; heat stress; fertilization; pollen tube growth; climate change
22.  Loss of ACS7 confers abiotic stress tolerance by modulating ABA sensitivity and accumulation in Arabidopsis 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2011;62(14):4875-4887.
The phytohormones ethylene and abscisic acid (ABA) play essential roles in the abiotic stress adaptation of plants, with both cross-talk of ethylene signalling and ABA biosynthesis and signalling reported. Any reciprocal effects on each other's biosynthesis, however, remain elusive. ACC synthase (ACS) acts as the key enzyme in ethylene biosynthesis. A pilot study on changes in ACS promoter activities in response to abiotic stresses revealed the unique involvement in abiotic stress responses of the only type 3 ACC synthase, ACS7, among all nine ACSs of Arabidopsis. Hence an acs7 mutant was characterized and its abiotic stress responses were analysed. The acs7 mutant germinated slightly faster than the wild type and subsequently maintained a higher growth rate at the vegetative growth stage. Ethylene emission of acs7 was merely one-third of that of the wild type. acs7 exhibited enhanced tolerance to salt, osmotic, and heat stresses. Furthermore, acs7 seeds were hypersensitive to both ABA and glucose during germination. Transcript analyses revealed that acs7 had elevated transcript levels of the stress-responsive genes involved in the ABA-dependent pathway under salt stress. The ABA level was also higher in acs7 following salt treatment. Our data suggest that ACS7 acts as a negative regulator of ABA sensitivity and accumulation under stress and appears as a node in the cross-talk between ethylene and ABA.
PMCID: PMC3193000  PMID: 21765163
Abiotic stresses; abscisic acid; AtACS7; cross-talk; ethylene
23.  Penetration of the Stigma and Style Elicits a Novel Transcriptome in Pollen Tubes, Pointing to Genes Critical for Growth in a Pistil 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(8):e1000621.
Pollen tubes extend through pistil tissues and are guided to ovules where they release sperm for fertilization. Although pollen tubes can germinate and elongate in a synthetic medium, their trajectory is random and their growth rates are slower compared to growth in pistil tissues. Furthermore, interaction with the pistil renders pollen tubes competent to respond to guidance cues secreted by specialized cells within the ovule. The molecular basis for this potentiation of the pollen tube by the pistil remains uncharacterized. Using microarray analysis in Arabidopsis, we show that pollen tubes that have grown through stigma and style tissues of a pistil have a distinct gene expression profile and express a substantially larger fraction of the Arabidopsis genome than pollen grains or pollen tubes grown in vitro. Genes involved in signal transduction, transcription, and pollen tube growth are overrepresented in the subset of the Arabidopsis genome that is enriched in pistil-interacted pollen tubes, suggesting the possibility of a regulatory network that orchestrates gene expression as pollen tubes migrate through the pistil. Reverse genetic analysis of genes induced during pollen tube growth identified seven that had not previously been implicated in pollen tube growth. Two genes are required for pollen tube navigation through the pistil, and five genes are required for optimal pollen tube elongation in vitro. Our studies form the foundation for functional genomic analysis of the interactions between the pollen tube and the pistil, which is an excellent system for elucidation of novel modes of cell–cell interaction.
Author Summary
For successful reproduction in flowering plants, a single-celled pollen tube must rapidly extend through female pistil tissue, locate female gametes, and deliver sperm. Pollen tubes undergo a dramatic transformation while growing in the pistil; they grow faster compared to tubes grown in vitro and become competent to perceive and respond to navigation cues secreted by the pistil. The genes expressed by pollen tubes in response to growth in the pistil have not been characterized. We used a surgical procedure to obtain large quantities of uncontaminated pollen tubes that grew through the pistil and defined their transcriptome by microarray analysis. Importantly, we identify a set of genes that are specifically expressed in pollen tubes in response to their growth in the pistil and are not expressed during other stages of pollen or plant development. We analyzed mutants in 33 pollen tube–expressed genes using a sensitive series of pollen function assays and demonstrate that seven of these genes are critical for pollen tube growth; two specifically disrupt growth in the pistil. By identifying pollen tube genes induced by the pistil and describing a mutant analysis scheme to understand their function, we lay the foundation for functional genomic analysis of pollen–pistil interactions.
PMCID: PMC2726614  PMID: 19714218
24.  Pollen-Induced Oxidative Stress Influences Both Innate and Adaptive Immune Responses via Altering Dendritic Cell Functions 
It has been demonstrated that pollen grains contain NAD(P)H oxidases that induce oxidative stress in the airways, and this oxidative insult is critical for the development of allergic inflammation in sensitized mice. On the basis of this observation, we have examined whether pollen grain exposure triggers oxidative stress in dendritic cells (DCs), altering their functions. To test this hypothesis, human monocyte-derived DCs were treated with ragweed pollen grains. Our findings show that exposure to pollen grains induces an increase in the intracellular levels of reactive oxygen species in DCs. Our data also indicate that besides the NAD(P)H oxidases, other component(s) of pollen grains contributes to this phenomenon. Elevated levels of intracellular reactive oxygen species triggered the production of IL-8 as well as proinflammatory cytokines, such as TNF-α and IL-6. Treatment with pollen grains initiated the maturation of DCs, strongly upregulated the membrane expression of CD80, CD86, CD83, and HLA-DR, and caused only a slight increase in the expression of CD40. The pollen-treated DCs induced the development of naive T lymphocytes toward effector T cells with a mixed profile of cytokine production. Antioxidant inhibited both the phenotypic and functional changes of DCs, underlining the importance of oxidative stress in these processes. Collectively, these data show that pollen exposure-induced oxidative stress may contribute to local innate immunity and participate in the initiation of adaptive immune responses to pollen Ags.
PMCID: PMC3028537  PMID: 20118277
25.  Consumption of Bt Rice Pollen Containing Cry1C or Cry2A Protein Poses a Low to Negligible Risk to the Silkworm Bombyx mori (Lepidoptera: Bombyxidae) 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102302.
By consuming mulberry leaves covered with pollen from nearby genetically engineered, insect-resistant rice lines producing Cry proteins derived from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), larvae of the domestic silkworm, Bombyx mori (Linnaeus) (Lepidoptera: Bombyxidae), could be exposed to insecticidal proteins. Laboratory experiments were conducted to assess the potential effects of Cry1C- or Cry2A-producing transgenic rice (T1C-19, T2A-1) pollen on B. mori fitness. In a short-term assay, B. mori larvae were fed mulberry leaves covered with different densities of pollen from Bt rice lines or their corresponding near isoline (control) for the first 3 d and then were fed mulberry leaves without pollen. No effect was detected on any life table parameter, even at 1800 pollen grains/cm2 leaf, which is much higher than the mean natural density of rice pollen on leaves of mulberry trees near paddy fields. In a long-term assay, the larvae were fed Bt and control pollen in the same way but for their entire larval stage (approximately 27 d). Bt pollen densities ≥150 grains/cm2 leaf reduced 14-d larval weight, increased larval development time, and reduced adult eclosion rate. ELISA analyses showed that 72.6% of the Cry protein was still detected in the pollen grains excreted with the feces. The low exposure of silkworm larvae to Cry proteins when feeding Bt rice pollen may be the explanation for the relatively low toxicity detected in the current study. Although the results demonstrate that B. mori larvae are sensitive to Cry1C and Cry2A proteins, the exposure levels that harmed the larvae in the current study are far greater than natural exposure levels. We therefore conclude that consumption of Bt rice pollen will pose a low to negligible risk to B. mori.
PMCID: PMC4094503  PMID: 25014054

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