, Volume 208, Issue 1, pp 129–141 | Cite as

Plasticity in the self-incompatibility system of cultivated Nicotiana alata



Nicotiana alata has long been a model species for studying gametophytic self-incompatibility (SI) in Solanaceae. Genetically based SI systems are widespread in flowering plants and function to reduce homozygosity and avoid inbreeding depression. However, out-crossing is always unfulfillable for populations with few S-alleles, such as in cultivated clonal populations or populations founded by few individuals. Under such conditions, there is a pressing demand to self-reproduce and pass on genetic information. We carried out a series of pollination and pollen tube observation experiments to explore how homozygous self-incompatible N. alata (S-allele identified and S-RNase active) sets fruits and to explore pseudo-self-fertility in these individuals. We observed several kinds of pollen tube abnormalities, including swelling, furcation, curve and inflexion, tip bursting and irregular callose plug deposition for flowers pollinated at different developmental stages. In addition, SI strength in this line of N. alata plants changed with floral age and flowering stages. That is, flowers became more self-compatible with floral aging, and SI strength in flowers at the end of flowering stages (stage III) was lower and more fruits were set at the top of the pseudo-raceme. Finally, SI strength also varied between individual flowers at the same plant and development stages. However, SI strength varied insignificantly among cultivated N. alata plants homozygous for the same S-allele. These findings indicate that SI in N. alata is plastic, with fruits set by aging flowers, especially flowers at stage III.


Nicotianaalata Self-incompatibility (SI) Pseudo-self-fertility (PSF) Pollination Pollen tubes 



This study was partly supported by grant 31560419 from the National Natural Science Fund in China.

Supplementary material

10681_2015_1606_MOESM1_ESM.tif (128 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (TIFF 128 kb) Generalized features of the S-allele, cited from "Genetic and environmental causes and evolutionary consequences of variations in self-fertility in self incompatible species". Comparison of allelic S-RNase from several Solanaceous species reveals that all S-alleles contain five conserved regions (C1-C5) and two hypervariable regions (HVa and HVb)
10681_2015_1606_MOESM2_ESM.tif (4.2 mb)
Supplementary material 2 (TIFF 4297 kb) N. alata flowers at different developmental stages and the corresponding stigma receptivity. a. Flowers in bud stage and stigma receptivity. b. Flowers at anthesis and stigma receptivity. c. Flowers on the 1st to 2nd day after anthesis and stigma receptivity. d. Flowers on the 3rd–4th days after anthesis and stigma receptivity. e. Flowers 6 days after anthesis and stigma receptivity. f, g. Flowers 9–10 days after anthesis and stigma receptivity
10681_2015_1606_MOESM3_ESM.tif (5.4 mb)
Supplementary material 3 (TIFF 5541 kb) N. alata plants at different developmental stages. a. Stage I, the 12th day from the day when the first flower opened. b. Stage II, the 65th day from the day when the first flower opened. c. Stage III, 103th day from the day when the first flower opened. d, e. Fruit set at stage III


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Life ScienceYunnan UniversityKunmingChina
  2. 2.Yunnan Academy of ForestryKunmingChina
  3. 3.Tobacco Research InstituteYuxiChina

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