Editors' ChoicePlant biology

The Makings of Self-Pollination

Science's STKE  30 Oct 2007:
Vol. 2007, Issue 410, pp. tw397
DOI: 10.1126/stke.4102007tw397

Plants that produce both male and female gametes use various strategies to determine whether they will predominantly self-fertilize or predominantly use pollen from other flowers. Although compatibility of cell surface receptors is part of the story, the geometry of flower parts also affects what pollen lands on the stigma. In the flower of the domesticated tomato, the stigma is buried within the anthers, which makes self-fertilization more likely. In wild relatives of the tomato, however, the stigma projects beyond the anthers and favors cross-fertilization. Chen et al. now identify the gene that regulates the length of the style--and thus regulates the relative geometry of stigma and anthers in the tomato.

K.-Y. Chen, B. Cong, R. Wing, J. Vrebalov, S. D. Tanksley, Changes in regulation of a transcription factor lead to autogamy in cultivated tomatoes. Science 318, 643-645 (2007). [Abstract] [Full Text]