Foldable structures and the natural design of pollen grains.
ABSTRACT: Upon release from the anther, pollen grains of angiosperm flowers are exposed to a dry environment and dehydrate. To survive this process, pollen grains possess a variety of physiological and structural adaptations. Perhaps the most striking of these adaptations is the ability of the pollen wall to fold onto itself to prevent further desiccation. Roger P. Wodehouse coined the term harmomegathy for this folding process in recognition of the critical role it plays in the survival of the pollen grain. There is still, however, no quantitative theory that explains how the structure of the pollen wall contributes to harmomegathy. Here we demonstrate that simple geometrical and mechanical principles explain how wall structure guides pollen grains toward distinct folding pathways. We found that the presence of axially elongated apertures of high compliance is critical for achieving a predictable and reversible folding pattern. Moreover, the intricate sculpturing of the wall assists pollen closure by preventing mirror buckling of the surface. These results constitute quantitative structure-function relationships for pollen harmomegathy and provide a framework to elucidate the functional significance of the very diverse pollen morphologies observed in angiosperms.
Project description:Nicotiana alata pollen tubes are a widely used model for studies of polarized tip growth and cell wall synthesis in plants. To better understand these processes, RNA-Seq and de novo assembly methods were used to produce a transcriptome of N. alata pollen grains. Notable in the reconstructed transcriptome were sequences encoding proteins that are involved in the synthesis and remodelling of xyloglucan, a cell wall polysaccharide previously not thought to be deposited in Nicotiana pollen tube walls. Expression of several xyloglucan-related genes in actively growing pollen tubes was confirmed and xyloglucan epitopes were detected in the wall with carbohydrate-specific antibodies: the major xyloglucan oligosaccharides found in N. alata pollen grains and tubes were fucosylated, an unusual structure for the Solanaceae, the family to which Nicotiana belongs. Finally, carbohydrate linkages consistent with xyloglucan were identified chemically in the walls of N. alata pollen grains and pollen tubes grown in culture. The presence of a fucosylated xyloglucan in Nicotiana pollen tube walls was thus confirmed. The consequences of this discovery to models of pollen tube growth dynamics and more generally to polarised tip-growing cells in plants are discussed.
Project description:Global temperature increase poses a serious challenge for agricultural production worldwide, affecting yield in many crops including vegetable crops. While most crop plants can survive temperature increases during their vegetative growth periods, the reproduction phase is highly heat-stress (HS)-sensitive. Impaired pollen development and functioning under HS is implicated as the major cause for yield reduction. To better understand HS effect on pollen and identify pollen thermotolerance mechanisms, we established conditions that enable developing pollen grains to acquire thermotolerance (ATT conditions), using tomato as a model system. High-throughput sequencing at cDNA level was performed by Massive Analysis of 3’cDNA using Illumina HiSeq 2000 technology, generating a total of 6430 and 4660 transcripts differentially expressed (p ≤ 1e-05) during pollen development/maturation and following response of developing pollen to ATT, respectively. Gene Onthology functional analysis showed that transcripts related to maintenance of protein homeostasis (translation, proteolysis, protein folding) were enriched during pollen maturation and following the ATT treatment in our study, highlighting these processes as central for enabling pollen maturation and maintenance of pollen functioning under HS. The transcriptomic data was compared to available pollen proteomic data based on the same experimental setup and an overlap of 47% was detected between differentially expressed proteins and transcripts following ATT conditions, highlighting genes/proteins involved in protein folding, oxidation-reduction and translation, and validating transcriptomic results. Involvement of mitochondria and endoplasmic reticulum in pollen heat acclimation, and activation of several HSPs including sHSPs and HSP101, for protecting pollen cellular components including the translational machinery, are indicated. The results of this study can serve as a valuable resource of genes for future research on improving pollen thermotolerance. Overall design: Establishment of the capacity of developing tomato pollen grains to acquire thermotolerance (ATT) using greenhouse-grown plants. Then, use of the established ATT conditions to test the effect on expression profiles of developing/maturing and mature pollen grains. Developing pollen grains are represented by pooling three developmental stages (3, 2 and 1 days before flower opening).
Project description:Brassica campestris Male Fertility 2 (BcMF2) is a putative polygalacturonase (PG) gene previously isolated from the flower bud of Chinese cabbage (Brassica campestris L. ssp. chinensis Makino, syn. B. rapa ssp. chinensis). This gene was found to be expressed specifically in tapetum and pollen after the tetrad stage of anther development. Antisense RNA technology was used to study the function of BcMF2 in Chinese cabbage. Scanning and transmission electron microscopy revealed that there were deformities in the transgenic mature pollen grains such as abnormal location of germinal furrows. In addition, the homogeneous pectic exintine layer facing the exterior seemed to be overdeveloped and predominantly occupied the intine, thus reversing the normal proportional distribution of the internal endintine layer and the external exintine layer. Since it is a continuation of the intine layer, the pollen tube wall could not grow normally. This resulted in the formation of a balloon-like swelling structure in the pollen tube tip in nearly 80% of the transgenic pollen grains. Premature degradation of tapetum was also found in these transgenic plants, which displayed decreased expression of the BcMF2 gene. BcMF2 might therefore encode a new PG with an important role in pollen wall development, possibly via regulation of pectin's dynamic metabolism.
Project description:The structure of pollen grains is related to the reproductive function of the plants. Here, three-dimensional (3D) refractive index maps were obtained for individual conifer pollen grains using optical diffraction tomography (ODT). The 3D morphological features of pollen grains from pine trees were investigated using measured refractive index maps, in which distinct substructures were clearly distinguished and analyzed. Morphological and physiochemical parameters of the pollen grains were quantified from the obtained refractive index (RI) maps and used to quantitatively study the interspecific differences of pollen grains from different strains. Our results demonstrate that ODT can assess the structure of pollen grains. This label-free and rapid 3D imaging approach may provide a new platform for understanding the physiology of pollen grains.
Project description: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.
Project description:In flowering plants, ideal male reproductive development requires the systematic coordination of various processes, in which timely differentiation and degradation of the anther wall, especially the tapetum, is essential for both pollen formation and anther dehiscence. Here, we show that OsGPAT3, a conserved glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase gene, plays a critical role in regulating anther wall degradation and pollen exine formation. The gpat3-2 mutant had defective synthesis of Ubisch bodies, delayed programmed cell death (PCD) of the inner three anther layers, and abnormal degradation of micropores/pollen grains, resulting in failure of pollen maturation and complete male sterility. Complementation and clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated 9 (Cas9) experiments demonstrated that OsGPAT3 is responsible for the male sterility phenotype. Furthermore, the expression level of tapetal PCD-related and nutrient metabolism-related genes changed significantly in the gpat3-2 anthers. Based on these genetic and cytological analyses, OsGPAT3 is proposed to coordinate the differentiation and degradation of the anther wall and pollen grains in addition to regulating lipid biosynthesis. This study provides insights for understanding the function of GPATs in regulating rice male reproductive development, and also lays a theoretical basis for hybrid rice breeding.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Rice (Oryza sativa) is one of the main crops in the world, and more than 3.9 billion people will consume rice by 2025. Sterility significantly affects rice production and leads to yield defects. The undeveloped anthers or abnormal pollen represent serious defects in rice male sterility. Therefore, understanding the mechanism of male sterility is an important task. Here, we investigated a rice sterile mutant according to its developmental morphology and transcriptional profiles. RESULTS:An untagged T-DNA insertional mutant showed defective pollen and abnormal anthers as compared with its semi-sterile mutant (sstl) progeny segregates. Transcriptomic analysis of sterile sstl-s revealed several biosynthesis pathways, such as downregulated cell wall, lipids, secondary metabolism, and starch synthesis. This downregulation is consistent with the morphological characterization of sstl-s anthers with irregular exine, absence of intine, no starch accumulation in pollen grains and no accumulated flavonoids in anthers. Moreover, defective microsporangia development led to abnormal anther locule and aborted microspores. The downregulated lipids, starch, and cell wall synthesis-related genes resulted in loss of fertility. CONCLUSIONS:We illustrate the importance of microsporangia in the development of anthers and functional microspores. Abnormal development of pollen grains, pollen wall, anther locule, etc. result in severe yield reduction.
Project description:The cell wall is important for pollen tube growth, but little is known about the molecular mechanism that controls cell wall deposition in pollen tubes. Here, the functional characterization of the pollen-expressed Arabidopsis cellulose synthase-like D genes CSLD1 and CSLD4 that are required for pollen tube growth is reported. Both CSLD1 and CSLD4 are highly expressed in mature pollen grains and pollen tubes. The CSLD1 and CSLD4 proteins are located in the Golgi apparatus and transported to the plasma membrane of the tip region of growing pollen tubes, where cellulose is actively synthesized. Mutations in CSLD1 and CSLD4 caused a significant reduction in cellulose deposition in the pollen tube wall and a remarkable disorganization of the pollen tube wall layers, which disrupted the genetic transmission of the male gametophyte. In csld1 and csld4 single mutants and in the csld1 csld4 double mutant, all the mutant pollen tubes exhibited similar phenotypes: the pollen tubes grew extremely abnormally both in vitro and in vivo, which indicates that CSLD1 and CSLD4 are not functionally redundant. Taken together, these results suggest that CSLD1 and CSLD4 play important roles in pollen tube growth, probably through participation in cellulose synthesis of the pollen tube wall.
Project description:Pollen grains play important roles in the reproductive processes of flowering plants. The roles of apoplastic proteins in pollen germination and in pollen tube growth are comparatively less well understood. To investigate the functions of apoplastic proteins in pollen germination, the global apoplastic proteins of mature and germinated Arabidopsis thaliana pollen grains were prepared for differential analyses by using 2-dimensional fluorescence difference gel electrophoresis (2-D DIGE) saturation labeling techniques. One hundred and three proteins differentially expressed (p value?0.01) in pollen germinated for 6h compared with un-germination mature pollen, and 98 spots, which represented 71 proteins, were identified by LC-MS/MS. By bioinformatics analysis, 50 proteins were identified as secreted proteins. These proteins were mainly involved in cell wall modification and remodeling, protein metabolism and signal transduction. Three of the differentially expressed proteins were randomly selected to determine their subcellular localizations by transiently expressing YFP fusion proteins. The results of subcellular localization were identical with the bioinformatics prediction. Based on these data, we proposed a model for apoplastic proteins functioning in pollen germination and pollen tube growth. These results will lead to a better understanding of the mechanisms of pollen germination and pollen tube growth.
Project description:Arabidopsis thaliana phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (AtVPS34) functions in the development and germination of pollen by catalyzing the biosynthesis of phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate (PI3P). In yeast, Vps15p is required for the membrane targeting and activity of Vps34. The expression of Arabidopsis thaliana VPS15 (AtVPS15), an ortholog of yeast Vps15, is mainly detected in pollen grains and pollen tubes. To determine its role in pollen development and pollen tube growth, we attempted to isolate the T-DNA insertion mutants of AtVPS15; however, homozygous lines of atvps15 were not obtained from the progeny of atvps15/+ heterozygotes. Genetic analysis revealed that the abnormal segregation is due to the failure of transmission of the atvps15 allele through pollen. Most pollen grains from the atvps15/+ genotype are viable, with normal exine structure and nuclei, but some mature pollen grains are characterized with unusual large vacuoles that are not observed in pollen grains from the wild AtVPS15 genotype. The germination ratio of pollen from the atvps15/+ genotype is about half when compared to that from the wild AtVPS15 genotype. When supplied with PI3P, in vitro pollen germination of the atvps15/+ genotype is greatly improved. Presumably, AtVPS15 functions in pollen development and germination by regulating PI3P biosynthesis in Arabidopsis.