Entire suite of recognition molecules to select unrelated mates have been identified in Petunia - Molecular and evolutionary analysis of plant non-self recognition system(January 09, 2015)
Self/non-self recognition is a fundamental requirement of life as represented by immune system in vertebrates. Plants also use such a self/non-self recognition system, known as self-incompatibility (SI), to prevent inbreeding. The research groups of Prof. Seiji Takayama at Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST; President Naotake Ogasawara) and of Prof. Kentaro K. Shimizu at Zurich University have revealed that Patunia, a member of the Solanaceae family (Nightshade family), use a SI system in which stylar "non-self" toxic proteins, S-RNases (S-ribonucleases), are detoxified by a collection of 16-20 different F-box proteins, SLFs (S-locus F-box proteins), expressed in pollen. Researchers also found evidence of gene duplication and gene conversion events, which they suggest are essential to the constitution of this "non-self" recognition system.
These findings demonstrated that the plants have adopted a "non-self" recognition system similar to immune system in vertebrates. This system will provide a unique opportunity to study and model the evolutionary dynamics of co-evolving interacting genes. Understanding this system will also lead to new technologies to control plant reproduction in breeding.
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Kubo K, Paape T, Hatakeyama M, Entani T, Takara A, Kajihara K, Tsukahara M, Shimizu-Inatsugi R, Shimizu KK, Takayama S. Gene duplication and genetic exchange drive the evolution of S-RNase based self-incompatibility. Nature Plants 1, 14005 (2015).