Structural and molecular analysis of self-incompatibility in almond (Prunus dulcis)
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A multi-approach was used to study different aspects of self-incompatibility (SI) in almond (Prunus dulcis). First, a population of almond cultivars was characterised as to their individual S-allele combination using separation of stylar protein extracts (non-equilibrium pH gradient electrofocusing) followed by staining for RNase activity, which led to the identification of one putative new allele and several new S-allele combinations. Second, a field pollination scheme was designed to study pollen tube progression and to obtain a spatial and temporal characterisation of this reproductive stage in both incompatible and compatible crosses. In addition, an anti-serum was raised against a synthetic peptide designed from an almond S-protein (S8) and used for immunological in situ detection in pistil cryosections. S-RNases were found to accumulate intercellularly in the stylar transmitting tissue as previously reported for other rosaceous species. The results are discussed in view of the evolution of the gametophytic SI system and the models proposed for its mechanism. Gametophyte selection is also proposed as an important intraspecific barrier to fertilisation in this species.
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