Intermittent pollen-tube growth in pistils of alders (Alnus).
ABSTRACT: In alders, where fertilization occurs approximately 8 weeks after pollination, the pollen tube (male gametophyte) grows intermittently in four steps in close association with the development of the ovary and its ovules. Pollen tubes stop growing in the style, at the ovarian locule, and at the chalaza (ovule), before reaching an embryo sac for fertilization. At the stage when the ovary develops an ovule primordium in each of the two locules, many pollen tubes germinate on the stigma, and a few of them reach the style, where they remain for approximately 7 weeks. Thereafter, a single tube resumes growing; with a short stop in the upper space of the ovarian locule, it reaches the older of the two ovules when it has developed a two-nucleate embryo sac. Except in the last step, where the tube grows from the chalaza to an embryo sac (female gametophyte), an eight-nucleate mature embryo sac is not necessary for pollen-tube guidance in the pistil. Although the intermittent pollen-tube growth appears to play an important role in the selection of a single pollen tube from many and one ovule from two, its detection provides insight into the study of the mechanism of pollen-tube guidance.
Project description:The female gametophyte of flowering plants, the embryo sac, develops within the diploid (sporophytic) tissue of the ovule. While embryo sac-expressed genes are known to be required at multiple stages of the fertilization process, the set of embryo sac-expressed genes has remained poorly defined. In particular, the set of genes responsible for mediating intracellular communication between the embryo sac and the male gametophyte, the pollen grain, is unknown. We used high-throughput cDNA sequencing and whole-genome tiling arrays to compare gene expression in wild-type ovules to that in dif1 ovules, which entirely lack embryo sacs, and myb98 ovules, which are impaired in pollen tube attraction. We identified nearly 400 genes that are downregulated in dif1 ovules. Seventy-eight percent of these embryo sac-dependent genes were predicted to encode for secreted proteins, and 60% belonged to multigenic families. Our results define a large number of candidate extracellular signaling molecules that may act during embryo sac development or fertilization; less than half of these are represented on the widely used ATH1 expression array. In particular, we found that 37 out of 40 genes encoding Domain of Unknown Function 784 (DUF784) domains require the synergid-specific transcription factor MYB98 for expression. Several DUF784 genes were transcribed in synergid cells of the embryo sac, implicating the DUF784 gene family in mediating late stages of embryo sac development or interactions with pollen tubes. The coexpression of highly similar proteins suggests a high degree of functional redundancy among embryo sac genes.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Pollen tubes deliver sperm after navigating through flower tissues in response to attractive and repulsive cues. Genetic analyses in maize and Arabidopsis thaliana and cell ablation studies in Torenia fournieri have shown that the female gametophyte (the 7-celled haploid embryo sac within an ovule) and surrounding diploid tissues are essential for guiding pollen tubes to ovules. The variety and inaccessibility of these cells and tissues has made it challenging to characterize the sources of guidance signals and the dynamic responses they elicit in the pollen tubes. RESULTS: Here we developed an in vitro assay to study pollen tube guidance to excised A. thaliana ovules. Using this assay we discerned the temporal and spatial regulation and species-specificity of late stage guidance signals and characterized the dynamics of pollen tube responses. We established that unfertilized A. thaliana ovules emit diffusible, developmentally regulated, species-specific attractants, and demonstrated that ovules penetrated by pollen tubes rapidly release diffusible pollen tube repellents. CONCLUSION: These results demonstrate that in vitro pollen tube guidance to excised A. thaliana ovules efficiently recapitulates much of in vivo pollen tube behaviour during the final stages of pollen tube growth. This assay will aid in confirming the roles of candidate guidance molecules, exploring the phenotypes of A. thaliana pollen tube guidance mutants and characterizing interspecies pollination interactions.
Project description:In Trimenia moorei, an extant member of the ancient angiosperm clade Austrobaileyales, we found a remarkable pattern of female gametophyte (egg-producing structure) development that strikingly resembles that of pollen tubes and their intrasexual competition within the maternal pollen tube transmitting tissues of most flowers. In contrast with most other flowering plants, in Trimenia, multiple female gametophytes are initiated at the base (chalazal end) of each ovule. Female gametophytes grow from their tips and compete over hundreds of micrometers to reach the apex of the nucellus and the site of fertilization. Here, the successful female gametophyte will mate with a pollen tube to produce an embryo and an endosperm. Moreover, the central tissue within the ovules of Trimenia, through which the embryo sacs grow, contains starch and other carbohydrates similar to the pollen tube transmitting tissues in the styles of most flowers. The pattern of female gametophyte development found in Trimenia is rare but by no means unique in angiosperms. Importantly, it seems that multiple female gametophytes are occasionally or frequently initiated in members of other ancient angiosperm lineages. The intensification of pollen tube (male gametophyte) competition and enhanced maternal selection among competing pollen tubes are considered to have been major contributors to the rise of angiosperms. Based on insights from Trimenia, we posit that prefertilization female gametophyte (egg) competition within individual ovules in addition to male gametophyte (sperm) competition and maternal mate choice may have been key features of the earliest angiosperms.
Project description:Pollen tube germination, growth, and guidance (progamic phase) culminating in sperm discharge is a multi-stage process including complex interactions between the male gametophyte as well as sporophytic tissues and the female gametophyte (embryo sac), respectively. Inter- and intra-specific crossing barriers in maize and Tripsacum have been studied and a precise description of progamic pollen tube development in maize is reported here. It was found that pollen germination and initial tube growth are rather unspecific, but an early, first crossing barrier was detected before arrival at the transmitting tract. Pollination of maize silks with Tripsacum pollen and incompatible pollination of Ga1s/Ga1s-maize silks with ga1-maize pollen revealed another two incompatibility barriers, namely transmitting tract mistargeting and insufficient growth support. Attraction and growth support by the transmitting tract seem to play key roles for progamic pollen tube growth. After leaving transmitting tracts, pollen tubes have to navigate across the ovule in the ovular cavity. Pollination of an embryo sac-less maize RNAi-line allowed the role of the female gametophyte for pollen tube guidance to be determined in maize. It was found that female gametophyte controlled guidance is restricted to a small region around the micropyle, approximately 50-100 microm in diameter. This area is comparable to the area of influence of previously described ZmEA1-based short-range female gametophyte signalling. In conclusion, the progamic phase is almost completely under sporophytic control in maize.
Project description:Flowering plant genomes encode multiple cation/H+ exchangers (CHXs) whose functions are largely unknown. AtCHX17, AtCHX18, and AtCHX19 are membrane transporters that modulate K+ and pH homeostasis and are localized in the dynamic endomembrane system. Loss of function reduced seed set, but the particular phase(s) of reproduction affected was not determined. Pollen tube growth and ovule targeting of chx17chx18chx19 mutant pollen appeared normal, but reciprocal cross experiments indicate a largely male defect. Although triple mutant pollen tubes reach ovules of a wild-type pistil and a synergid cell degenerated, half of those ovules were unfertilized or showed fertilization of the egg or central cell, but not both female gametes. Fertility could be partially compromised by impaired pollen tube and/or sperm function as CHX19 and CHX18 are expressed in the pollen tube and sperm cell, respectively. When fertilization was successful in self-pollinated mutants, early embryo formation was retarded compared with embryos from wild-type ovules receiving mutant pollen. Thus CHX17 and CHX18 proteins may promote embryo development possibly through the endosperm where these genes are expressed. The reticulate pattern of the pollen wall was disorganized in triple mutants, indicating perturbation of wall formation during male gametophyte development. As pH and cation homeostasis mediated by AtCHX17 affect membrane trafficking and cargo delivery, these results suggest that male fertility, sperm function, and embryo development are dependent on proper cargo sorting and secretion that remodel cell walls, plasma membranes, and extracellular factors.
Project description:Pollen biology in P. aphrodite. Orchids have a distinct reproductive program. Pollination triggers ovule development and differentiation within flowers, and fertilization occurs days to months after pollination. It is unclear how pollen tubes travel through the developing ovaries during ovule development and when pollen tubes arrive at the mature embryo sac to achieve fertilization. Here, we report a robust staining protocol to image and record the timing of pollen germination, progressive growth of pollen tubes in ovaries, and arrival of pollen tubes at embryo sacs in Phalaenopsis aphrodite. The pollen germinated and pollen tubes entered the ovary 3 days after pollination. Pollen tubes continued to grow and filled the entire cavity of the ovary as the ovary elongated and ovules developed. Pollen tubes were found to enter the matured embryo sacs at approximately 60-65 days after pollination in an acropetal manner. Moreover, these temporal changes in developmental events such as growth of pollen tubes and fertilization were associated with expression of molecular markers. In addition, we developed an in vitro pollen germination protocol, which is valuable to enable studies on pollen tube guidance and tip growth regulation in Phalaenopsis orchids and possibly in other orchid species.
Project description:We perform a quantitative RNA-seq analysis of embryo sacs, comparator ovules with the embryo sacs removed, mature pollen, and seedlings to assist the identification of gametophyte functions in maize. Expression levels were determined for annotated genes in both gametophytes, and novel transcripts were identified from de novo assembly of RNA-seq reads. RNA-seq was performed on four tissue types: nine-day old, above-ground seedling (S); mature pollen (MP); embryo-sac-enriched samples with some remaining nucellar cells (ES); and ovules with embryo sacs removed (Ov).
Project description:Aposporous apomictic plants form clonal maternal seeds by inducing the emergence of non-reduced (2n) embryo sacs in the ovule nucellus and the development of embryos by parthenogenesis. In previous work, we reported a plant-specific TRIMETHYLGUANOSINE SYNTHASE 1 (TGS1) gene (PN_TGS1-like) showing expression levels positively correlated with sexuality rates in facultative apomictic Paspalum notatum. PN_ TGS1-like displayed contrasting in situ hybridization patterns in apomictic and sexual plant ovules from premeiosis to anthesis. Here we transformed sexual P. notatum with a TGS1-like antisense construction under a constitutive promoter, in order to produce lines with reduced transcript representation. Antisense plants developed prominent trichomes on the adaxial leaf surface, a trait absent from control genotypes. Reproductive development analysis revealed occasional formation of twin ovules. While control individuals typically displayed a single meiotic embryo sac per ovule, antisense lines showed 12.93-15.79% of ovules bearing extra nuclei, which can be assigned to aposporous-like embryo sacs (AES-like) or, alternatively, to gametophytes with a misguided cell fate development. Moreover, around 8.42-9.52% of ovules showed what looked like a combination of meiotic and aposporous-like sacs. Besides, 32.5% of ovules at early developmental stages displayed nucellar cells with prominent nuclei resembling apospory initials (AIs), which surrounded the megaspore mother cell (MMC) or the MMC-derived meiotic products. Two or more concurrent meiosis events were never detected, which suggest a non-reduced nature for the extra nuclei observed in the mature ovules, unless they were generated by proliferation and misguided differentiation of the legitimate meiotic products. The antisense lines produced a similar amount of viable even-sized pollen with respect to control genotypes, and formed an equivalent full seed set (?9% of total seeds) after self-pollination. Flow cytometry analyses of caryopses derived from antisense lines revealed that all full seeds had originated from meiotic embryo sacs (i.e. by sexuality). A reduction of 25.55% in the germination percentage was detected when comparing antisense lines with controls. Our results indicate that PN_ TGS1-like influences ovule, gametophyte and possibly embryo development.
Project description:In flowering plants, the egg develops within a haploid embryo sac (female gametophyte) that is encased within the pistil. The haploid pollen grain (male gametophyte) extends a pollen tube that carries two sperm cells within its cytoplasm to the embryo sac. This feat requires rapid, precisely guided, and highly polarized growth through, between, and on the surface of the cells of the stigma, style, and ovary. Pollen tube migration depends on a series of long-range signals from diploid female cells as well as a short-range attractant emitted by the embryo sac that guides the final stage of tube growth. We developed a genetic screen in Arabidopsis thaliana that tags mutant pollen with a cell-autonomous marker carried on an insertion element. We found 32 haploid-disrupting (hapless) mutations that define genes required for pollen grain development, pollen tube growth in the stigma and style, or pollen tube growth and guidance in the ovary. We also identified genomic DNA flanking the insertion element for eleven hap mutants and showed that hap1 disrupts AtMago, a gene whose ortholog is important for Drosophila cell polarity.
Project description:The fertilization-related kinase 1 (ScFRK1), a nuclear-localized mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase (MAPKKK) from the wild potato species Solanum chacoense, belongs to a small group of pMEKKs that do not possess an extended N- or C-terminal regulatory domain. Initially selected based on its highly specific expression profile following fertilization, in situ expression analyses revealed that the ScFRK1 gene is also expressed early on during female gametophyte development in the integument and megaspore mother cell and, later, in the synergid and egg cells of the embryo sac. ScFRK1 mRNAs are also detected in pollen mother cells. Transgenic plants with lower or barely detectable levels of ScFRK1 mRNAs lead to the production of small fruits with severely reduced seed set, resulting from a concomitant decline in the number of normal embryo sacs produced. Megagametogenesis and microgametogenesis were affected, as megaspores did not progress beyond the functional megaspore (FG1) stage and the microspore collapsed around the first pollen mitosis. As for other mutants that affect embryo sac development, pollen tube guidance was severely affected in the ScFRK1 transgenic lines. Gametophyte to sporophyte communication was also affected, as observed from a marked change in the transcriptomic profiles of the sporophytic tissues of the ovule. The ScFRK1 MAPKKK is thus involved in a signalling cascade that regulates both male and female gamete development.