, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 143-152
Date: 12 Mar 2008

Distinct expression of members of the LHT amino acid transporter family in flowers indicates specific roles in plant reproduction

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Sexual plant reproduction necessitates proper development of pollen, pollen germination and tube growth through various tissues of the pistil, the female organ of the flower. Finally, sperm cells are released to fertilize the female gametophyte. These processes require high metabolic activities of all tissues involved and rely on the delivery of nitrogen assimilates for success. However, transporters mediating nitrogen fluxes are mostly unknown. The presented work provides an expression analysis of members of the LHT amino acid transporter family in relation to pollen development and pollen–pistil interaction. Expression of Arabidopsis LHTs was analyzed during flower development and the location of LHT function resolved by transporter-GFP and promoter-GUS studies. GFP-LHT localization in onion cells indicates that all LHTs analyzed are targeted to the plasma membrane. We further showed that LHTs are expressed in anthers and male gametophytes where they are proposed to function in transport of amino acids for pollen development and maturation. Expression in germinating pollen, pollen tubes and transmitting tissue of the pistil points to a role of LHTs in support of the fertilization process. Overall, our study suggests that LHT function in flowers is cell or tissue specific, developmentally regulated and highly coordinated between male and female tissue.

Communicated by Scott Russell.