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Analysis of pollen-pistil interactions to model reproductive thermotolerance in tomato

Plant Sciences
Alexander Nelson

Sandra Nelson

"Under current global circumstances, developing heat-tolerant crops has become of pinnacle importance. S. lycopersicum, the commonly cultivated tomato variety, is one of the most valuable vegetable crops and a widely used plant research model organism. Successful pollination in tomato under heat stress requires thermotolerant female and male components. Accordingly, tomato accessions with shorter pistils and pollen tubes were hypothesized to have greater thermotolerance because the pollen tubes travel a shorter distance and have fewer opportunities for premature bursting events. Reproductive thermotolerance was characterized using three assays. First, the length of the pistils was measured during the first day of flower opening. Second, the in vitro grown pollen tube length (at 26 oC) for each of the eight selected accessions was measured in ImageJ, to determine if there is any correlation between pollen tube length and pistil length. Third, the pollen tube burst rates were measured for each image, at both 26oC and 34oC, for all eight accessions. While there was no significant correlation between pistil lengths and burst rates, burst rates were directly correlated to pollen tube length, by the coefficient 0.23815, confirmed with Kruskal-Wallis, Dunn’s, and Linear Model tests in R. Accessions with comparatively shorter pollen tubes resisted bursting under heat stress conditions, whereas accessions with longer pollen tubes burst at a higher rate. This research poses a benefit to the agriculture. Identifying species with short pollen tube lengths may aid in developing thermotolerant crops. "

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3 thoughts on “Analysis of pollen-pistil interactions to model reproductive thermotolerance in tomato

  1. Excellent work, thoroughly researched and documented. Your enthusiasm for science really came through in the interview. Well presented in the display. I would like to see more work on the wide crops from which domesticated tomatoes were developed. Do they have more tolerance for changing conditions, especially heat? Do the so-called heat tolerant varieties sold in local nurseries follow your observations?
    Keep up the good work as you go forward.

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