Get access

Antibodies raised against tobacco aquaporins of the PIP2 class label viscin tissue of the explosive dwarf mistletoe fruit


  • Editor
    J. Schroeder

C. M. Ross Friedman, Department of Biological Sciences, Thompson Rivers University, PO Box 3010, Kamloops, BC V2C 5N3, Canada.


Dwarf mistletoes, genus Arceuthobium, are parasitic flowering plants and forest pests. In western North America, Arceuthobium americanum (lodgepole pine dwarf mistletoe) is principally found on Pinus contorta var. latifolia (lodgepole pine). Dwarf mistletoes disperse their seeds by an explosive process that involves the buildup of hydrostatic pressure within a mucilaginous fruit tissue called the ‘viscin’. Living viscin tissue envelops the discharged seeds. This study examined the possibility that aquaporins, critical in plant water relations, might be found in the dwarf mistletoe fruit, specifically the viscin cells. An antibody raised against a tobacco plasma membrane intrinsic 2 (PIP2) aquaporin was used with a gold-labeled secondary antibody to probe dwarf mistletoe fruit at various developmental stages. Viscin cell plasma membranes were successfully labeled with the anti-tobacco probe, and the validity of the immunolabeling was supported by Western blot analysis, showing a strong signal at about 30 kDa, which is at the expected size of a PIP2. A definitive immunolabeling pattern, supported by quantification of gold signal per membrane length, was observed: viscin cells sampled early in development had abundant gold label at their plasma membranes (1.93 ± 0.13 to 2.13 ± 0.33 gold particles per μm membrane), while other areas of the cells had no discernible label. Viscin cells sampled near the time of explosive discharge had significantly less label at the plasma membrane (0.21 gold particles ± 0.11 per μm membrane, P < 0.05), and label was seen at vesicular membranes. Aquaporins likely have a role in directing water to the viscin mucilage early in development, but are retrieved via endocytosis to prevent excess water loss from viscin cells when discharge is imminent.