Molecular Analysis of Pollen Germination Control
Wheat and beans are major crops in Idaho. Idaho ranks number 7 in the US for wheat production. Grains are the most important food source for a growing world population. The production of grains is strictly dependent upon successful production and union of the haploid pollen and egg. A disruption in the pollen development, pollen germination, pollen tube growth and fertilization can significantly affect seed yield of crops. Recent genetic and molecular studies in higher plants have led to identification of genes affecting the various steps of pollen development. Our knowledge about the mechanisms underlying pollen development and germination control is incomplete, particularly at the biochemical levels. We have recently identified several mutants defective in various steps in pollen development in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. These
mutants contain defective genes encoding a receptor-like protein kinase, a novel Rhomboid-like protease and various callose synthases. We plan to take advantage of these available genetic materials and molecular probes to investigate how the process of pollen development and pollen germination is regulated at the molecular level. We will take the classic forward genetic approach to isolate new mutants defective in pollen germination control. We will conduct a systematic investigation on physiological factors that may trigger premature pollen germination in closed flowers. We will take biochemistry and molecular biology approach to purify a potent inhibitor of pollen germination from the anther tissue of flowers. A better understanding of pollen germination control and pollen viability would potentially help develop new crop varieties with improved yield and agronomic performance.