In plants, cell-cell recognition is a crucial step in the selection of optimal pairs of gametes to achieve successful propagation of progeny. Flowering plants have evolved various genetic mechanisms, mediated by cell-cell recognition, to enable their pistils to reject self-pollen, thus preventing inbreeding and the consequent reduced fitness of progeny (self-incompatibility, SI), and to reject foreign pollen from other species, thus maintaining species identity (interspecific incompatibility) 1. In the genus Brassica, the SI system is regulated by an S-haplotype-specific interaction between a stigma-expressed female receptor (S receptor kinase, SRK) and a tapetum cell-expressed male ligand (S locus protein 11, SP11), encoded by their respective polymorphic genes at the S locus 2-6. However, the molecular mechanism for recognition of foreign pollen, leading to reproductive incompatibility, has not yet been identified. Here, we show that recognition between a novel pair of proteins, a pistil receptor SUI1 (STIGMATIC UNILATERAL INCOMPATIBILITY 1) and a pollen ligand PUI1 (POLLEN UNILATERAL INCOMPATIBILITY 1), triggers unilateral reproductive incompatibility between plants of two geographically distant self-incompatible Brassica rapa lines, even though crosses would be predicted to be compatible based on the S haplotypes of pollen and stigma. Interestingly, SUI1 and PUI1 are similar to the SI genes, SRK and SP11, respectively, and are maintained as cryptic incompatibility genes in these two populations. The duplication of the SRK and SP11 followed by reciprocal loss in different populations would provide a molecular mechanism of the emergence of a reproductive barrier in allopatry.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Plant Science