Proteomic Evaluation of Gymnosperm Pollination Drop Proteins Indicates Highly Conserved and Complex Biological Functions.

Sexual Plant Reproduction (2007 20:181-189)

Wagner, R.E., Mugnaini, S., Sniezko, R., Hardie, D., Poulis, B., Nepi, M., Pacini, E. and von Aderkas, P.

The pollination droplet is a highly conservative pollination mechanism that is observed in all major gymnosperm taxa. Proteomics analysis of the pollination drops was carried out on four gymnosperm species: Juniperus communis (common juniper), Juniperus oxycedrus (prickly juniper), Chamaecyparis lawsoniana (Port Orford cedar), and Welwitschia mirabilis. Pollination drop proteins were purified by SDS-PAGE, and the most abundant proteins were analyzed by mass spectrometry and sequenced. Based on BLAST searching of combined amino acid sequences, the following proteins were identified in the following species: an 83-kDa subtilisin-like proteinase, a 62-kDa glycosyl hydrolase, a 47.5-kDa glucan 1,3-β-glucosidase precursor, a 30-kDa chitinase, and a 25-kDa thaumatin-like protein were identified in J. communis; a 30-kDa chitinase, a 25-kDa thaumatin-like protein, and a 32.5-kDa glucanase-like protein were identified in J. oxycedrus; an 83-kDa subtilisin-like proteinase, a 62-kDa β-d-glucan exohydrolase, a 47.5-kDa glucan 1,3-β-glucosidase, and two 25-kDa thaumatin-like proteins were identified in C. lawsoniana, and a 25-kDa chitinase was identified in W. mirabilis. Based on protein identifications, there is strong evidence that the pollination drop functions in both pathogen defense and pollen development. The discovery of similarities in terms of peptide sequence and protein identifications indicates that ovular secretions are functionally conservative, and that they are essential to reproductive success.