Dwarf mistletoes, genus Arceuthobium (Santalaceae), are parasitic angiosperms that spread their seeds by an explosive process. As gentle heating triggers discharge in the lab, we wondered if thermogenesis (endogenous heat production) is associated with dispersal. Thermogenesis occurs in many plants and is enabled by mitochondrial alternative oxidase (AOX) activity. The purpose of this study was to probe Arceuthobium americanum fruit (including seed tissues) collected over a 10-week period with an anti-AOX antibody/gold-labeled secondary antibody to determine if AOX could be localized in situ, and if so, quantitatively assess whether label distribution changed during development; immunochemical results were evaluated with Western blotting. No label could be detected in the mitochondria of any fruit or seed tissue, but was observed in fruit exocarp plastids of samples collected in the last 2 weeks of study; plastids collected in week 10 had significantly more label than week 9 (p = 0.002). Western blotting of whole fruit and mitochondrial proteins revealed a signal at 30–36 kD, suggestive of AOX, while blots of whole fruit (but not mitochondrial fraction) proteins showed a second band at 40–45 kD, in agreement with plastid terminal oxidases (PTOXs). AOX enzymes are likely present in the A. americanum fruit, even though they were not labeled in mitochondria. The results strongly indicate that the anti-AOX antibody was labeling PTOX in plastids, probably at a C-terminal region conserved in both enzymes. PTOX in plastids may be involved in fruit ripening, although a role for PTOX in thermogenesis cannot be eliminated.
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This work was supported by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Discovery Grant [grant number 164375 provided to CRF]. We are very grateful to Ronald G. Smith of Thompson Rivers University for postulating that AOXs might be involved in thermogenesis-driven explosive seed discharge in the dwarf mistletoes. We also thank two anonymous reviewers who helped us improve the quality of the original study.
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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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Ross Friedman, C., Ross, B.N. & Martens, G.D. An antibody against a conserved C-terminal consensus motif from plant alternative oxidase (AOX) isoforms 1 and 2 label plastids in the explosive dwarf mistletoe (Arceuthobium americanum, Santalaceae) fruit exocarp. Protoplasma 250, 317–323 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00709-012-0414-6