A light and electron microscopy analysis of the events leading to male sterility in Ogu-INRA CMS of rapeseed (Brassica napus)

J Exp Bot. 2008;59(4):827-38. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erm365.


Ogura cytoplasmic male sterility (CMS) occurs naturally in radish and has been introduced into rapeseed (Brassica napus) by protoplast fusion. As with all CMS systems, it involves a constitutively expressed mitochondrial gene which induces male sterility to otherwise hermaphroditic plants (so they become females) and a nuclear gene named restorer of fertility that restores pollen production in plants carrying a sterility-inducing cytoplasm. A correlative approach using light and electron microscopy was applied to define what stages throughout development were affected and the subcellular events leading to the abortion of the developing pollen grains upon the expression of the mitochondrial protein. Three central stages of development (tetrad, mid-microspore and vacuolate microspore) were compared between fertile, restored, and sterile plants. At each stage observed, the pollen in fertile and restored plants had similar cellular structures and organization. The deleterious effect of the sterility protein expression started as early as the tetrad stage. No typical mitochondria were identified in the tapetum at any developmental stage and in the vacuolate microspores of the sterile plants. In addition, some striking ultrastructural alterations of the cell's organization were also observed compared with the normal pattern of development. The results showed that Ogu-INRA CMS was due to premature cell death events of the tapetal cells, presumably by an autolysis process rather than a normal PCD, which impairs pollen development at the vacuolate microspore stage, in the absence of functional mitochondria.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brassica napus / physiology*
  • Brassica napus / ultrastructure*
  • Microscopy
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Plant Infertility / physiology*
  • Reproduction / physiology