The LuWD40-1 gene encoding WD repeat protein regulates growth and pollen viability in flax (Linum usitatissimum L.).

Kumar, S., Jordan, M.C., Datla, R.S.S., and Cloutier, S. (2013). "The LuWD40-1 gene encoding WD repeat protein regulates growth and pollen viability in flax (Linum usitatissimum L.).", PLoS ONE, 8(7), pp. e69124. doi : 10.1371/journal.pone.0069124  Access to full text

Abstract

As a crop, flax holds significant commercial value for its omega-3 rich oilseeds and stem fibres. Canada is the largest producer of linseed but there exists scope for significant yield improvements. Implementation of mechanisms such as male sterility can permit the development of hybrids to assist in achieving this goal. Temperature sensitive male sterility has been reported in flax but the leakiness of this system in field conditions limits the production of quality hybrid seeds. Here, we characterized a 2,588 bp transcript differentially expressed in male sterile lines of flax. The twelve intron gene predicted to encode a 368 amino acid protein has five WD40 repeats which, in silico, form a propeller structure with putative nucleic acid and histone binding capabilities. The LuWD40-1 protein localized to the nucleus and its expression increased during the transition and continued through the vegetative stages (seed, etiolated seedling, stem) while the transcript levels declined during reproductive development (ovary, anthers) and embryonic morphogenesis of male fertile plants. Knockout lines for LuWD40-1 in flax failed to develop shoots while overexpression lines showed delayed growth phenotype and were male sterile. The non-viable flowers failed to open and the pollen grains from these flowers were empty. Three independent transgenic lines overexpressing the LuWD40-1 gene had ~80% non-viable pollen, reduced branching, delayed flowering and maturity compared to male fertile genotypes. The present study provides new insights into a male sterility mechanism present in flax.

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