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Keywords:

  • aquaporin;
  • Brassica;
  • PIP;
  • pollen hydration;
  • stigma papillae

Summary

The pollen grains of angiosperms are usually desiccated at maturity. Following pollination, pollen hydrates on the stigma surface before germination takes place. Rehydration is an essential step for the success of pollination and depends on the movement of water from the stigmatic cells. This water flow has been shown to be biologically regulated, and components of both pollen and stigma surfaces have been demonstrated to play a role in the control of pollen hydration. Regulation of water transport between animal or plant cells involves membrane proteins, designated aquaporins, which possess water-channel activity. Such molecules may be candidates for controlling pollen hydration, and consequently we investigated whether aquaporins are present in the pollen and stigma cells in Brassica oleracea. Here, we report the identification of two new aquaporin genes, Bo-PIP1b1 and Bo-PIP1b2, which are highly homologous to PIP1b from Arabidopsis thaliana. Both Bo-PIP1b1 and Bo-PIP1b2 proteins are active water channels when expressed in Xenopus oocytes. Expression of Bo-PIP1b1 and Bo-PIP1b2 was observed in reproductive organs as well as in vegetative tissues. Interestingly, the use of a Bo-PIP1b2 cDNA probe revealed that PIP1-like transcripts were not present in the pollen grains or in the stigma papillae, but were present in the stigma cell layers underlying the papillar cells. This observation suggests that water flow between the pollen and stigma papillae may be dependent on aquaporins expressed in cells that are not directly in contact with the pollen grain.