Gynogenesis is an asexual mode of reproduction common to animals and plants, in which stimuli from the sperm cell trigger the development of the unfertilized egg cell into a haploid embryo. Fine mapping restricted a major maize QTL (quantitative trait locus) responsible for the aptitude of inducer lines to trigger gynogenesis to a zone containing a single gene NOT LIKE DAD (NLD) coding for a patatin-like phospholipase A. In all surveyed inducer lines, NLD carries a 4-bp insertion leading to a predicted truncated protein. This frameshift mutation is responsible for haploid induction because complementation with wild-type NLD abolishes the haploid induction capacity. Activity of the NLD promoter is restricted to mature pollen and pollen tube. The translational NLD::citrine fusion protein likely localizes to the sperm cell plasma membrane. In Arabidopsis roots, the truncated protein is no longer localized to the plasma membrane, contrary to the wild-type NLD protein. In conclusion, an intact pollen-specific phospholipase is required for successful sexual reproduction and its targeted disruption may allow establishing powerful haploid breeding tools in numerous crops.
Keywords: Zea mays; embryo; fertilization; gynogenesis; haploid; phospholipase.
© 2017 The Authors.