Single-seeded fruit of the sacred lotus Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn var. China Antique from NE China have viability as long as ~1300 years determined by direct radiocarbon-dating, having a germination rate of 84%. The pericarp, a fruit tissue that encloses the single seeds of Nelumbo, is considered one of the major factors that contribute to fruit longevity. Proteins that are heat stable and have protective function may be equally important to seed viability. We show proteins of Nelumbo fruit that are able to withstand heating, 31% of which remained soluble in the 110°C-treated embryo-axis of a 549-yr-old fruit and 76% retained fluidity in its cotyledons. Genome of Nelumbo is published. The amino-acid sequences of 11 "thermal proteins" (soluble at 100°C) of modern Nelumbo embryo-axes and cotyledons, identified by mass spectrometry, Western blot and bioassay, are assembled and aligned with those of an archaeal-hyperthermophile Methancaldococcus jannaschii (Mj; an anaerobic methanogen having a growth optimum of 85°C) and with five mesophile angiosperms. These thermal proteins have roles in protection and repair under stress. More than half of the Nelumbo thermal proteins (55%) are present in the archaean Mj, indicating their long-term durability and history. One Nelumbo protein-repair enzyme exhibits activity at 100°C, having a higher heat-tolerance than that of Arabidopsis. A list of 30 sequenced but unassembled thermal proteins of Nelumbo is supplemented.
Keywords: 30 Additional Thermal-Proteins; Eleven 100°C-Heat-Soluble Proteins; Hyperthermophile-Mesophile Protein-Alignments; Nelumbo nucifera China Antique; Stress-and-Repair Proteins.