Apoptosis detected in hybrids between nicotiana glutinosa and N. repanda expressing lethality

Planta. 1999 Nov;210(1):168-71. doi: 10.1007/s004250050667.


Hybrid lethality is one of the mechanisms for reproductive isolation. Apoptotic features were detected in the cells of hybrid seedlings of Nicotiana glutinosa L. x N. repanda Willd. Condensation of chromatin and fragmentation of nuclei were observed in the leaf protoplasts isolated from hybrid seedlings expressing this lethality. Fragmentation of nuclei was correlated with the progression of lethal symptoms, as confirmed by fluorimetry of the nuclear DNA using laser scanning cytometry. Agarose gel analysis of DNA extracted from hybrid leaves showing lethality revealed a specific ladder pattern suggesting nucleosomal fragmentation associated with nuclear fragmentation. In-situ detection of DNA fragmentation using terminal deoxyribonucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP-fluorescein nick end labeling (TUNEL) showed that this process occurred in all leaf cells. This is the first evidence that apoptosis can induce suicide of hybrid plants, thus leading to reproductive isolation.