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Developmentally controlled expression of a gene associated with self-incompatibility in Nicotiana alata


In many flowering plant species, a system of self-incompatibility, typically controlled by a single gene with multiple alleles (S-gene)1, enables individual plants to recognize and reject their own pollen. In gametophytically determined systems, the growth of self-pollen tubes is arrested in the style or occasionally the ovary. The expression of this self-incompatibility is developmentally regulated, being strongest in mature flowers and weak in immature styles1,2. We have used a complementary DNA clone, believed to encode the S2-allele of Nicotiana alata2,3, to detect S2 messenger RNA by in situ hybridization to sections. We report here that expression of the gene occurs in the stigma and throughout the secretory tissue, but not in other parts, of mature pistils. In immature flowers, S2 mRNA is confined to the proliferated epidermis of the stigma. We conclude that S2-gene expression correlates well with the expression of incompatibility.

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Cornish, E., Pettitt, J., Bonig, I. et al. Developmentally controlled expression of a gene associated with self-incompatibility in Nicotiana alata. Nature 326, 99–102 (1987).

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