Plant Reproduction

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 61–72 | Cite as

SYBR Green-activated sorting of Arabidopsis pollen nuclei based on different DNA/RNA content

  • Vera K. SchoftEmail author
  • Nina Chumak
  • János Bindics
  • Lucyna Slusarz
  • David Twell
  • Claudia Köhler
  • Hisashi TamaruEmail author
Original Article


Key message

Purification of pollen nuclei.

Germ cell epigenetics is a critical topic in plants and animals. The male gametophyte (pollen) of flowering plants is an attractive model to study genetic and epigenetic reprogramming during sexual reproduction, being composed of only two sperm cells contained within, its companion, vegetative cell. Here, we describe a simple and efficient method to purify SYBR Green-stained sperm and vegetative cell nuclei of Arabidopsis thaliana pollen using fluorescence-activated cell sorting to analyze chromatin and RNA profiles. The method obviates generating transgenic lines expressing cell-type-specific fluorescence reporters and facilitates functional genomic analysis of various mutant lines and accessions. We evaluate the purity and quality of the sorted pollen nuclei and analyze the technique’s molecular basis. Our results show that both DNA and RNA contents contribute to SYBR Green-activated nucleus sorting and RNA content differences impact on the separation of sperm and vegetative cell nuclei. We demonstrate the power of the approach by sorting wild-type and polyploid mutant sperm and vegetative cell nuclei from mitotic and meiotic mutants, which is not feasible using cell-type-specific transgenic reporters. Our approach should be applicable to pollen nuclei of crop plants and possibly to cell/nucleus types and cell cycle phases of different species containing substantially different amounts of DNA and/or RNA.


SYBR Green Fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) Pollen Sperm nuclei Male gametophyte Arabidopsis 



We thank Gabriele Stengl and Gerald Schmauss from the BioOptics Facility for setting up and optimizing FACS, and Nicole Fellner and Günter Resch from the Campus Science Support Facility for electron microscopy. We thank Georg Krohne for advice and suggestions. We thank Sheila McCormick for an AtGEX2:eGFP transgenic line, and Marjorie Matzke for nrpe1 and drd3-1 seeds. VKS thanks Marc Berlinger for his support. This work was supported by Austrian Science Fund (FWF) Grants P21389-B03 and P24918-B21 (to H.T.).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

497_2015_258_MOESM1_ESM.pptx (943 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PPTX 942 kb)
497_2015_258_MOESM2_ESM.docx (33 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 33 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vera K. Schoft
    • 1
    Email author
  • Nina Chumak
    • 1
    • 4
  • János Bindics
    • 1
  • Lucyna Slusarz
    • 1
  • David Twell
    • 2
  • Claudia Köhler
    • 3
  • Hisashi Tamaru
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Gregor Mendel InstituteAustrian Academy of SciencesViennaAustria
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of LeicesterLeicesterUK
  3. 3.Department of Plant BiologySwedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Linnean Center of Plant BiologyUppsalaSweden
  4. 4.Institute of Plant BiologyUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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