Frontiers in plant science

Garlic (Allium sativum L.) fertility: transcriptome and proteome analyses provide insight into flower and pollen development.

PMID 25972879


Commercial cultivars of garlic, a popular condiment, are sterile, making genetic studies and breeding of this plant challenging. However, recent fertility restoration has enabled advanced physiological and genetic research and hybridization in this important crop. Morphophysiological studies, combined with transcriptome and proteome analyses and quantitative PCR validation, enabled the identification of genes and specific processes involved in gametogenesis in fertile and male-sterile garlic genotypes. Both genotypes exhibit normal meiosis at early stages of anther development, but in the male-sterile plants, tapetal hypertrophy after microspore release leads to pollen degeneration. Transcriptome analysis and global gene-expression profiling showed that >16,000 genes are differentially expressed in the fertile vs. male-sterile developing flowers. Proteome analysis and quantitative comparison of 2D-gel protein maps revealed 36 significantly different protein spots, 9 of which were present only in the male-sterile genotype. Bioinformatic and quantitative PCR validation of 10 candidate genes exhibited significant expression differences between male-sterile and fertile flowers. A comparison of morphophysiological and molecular traits of fertile and male-sterile garlic flowers suggests that respiratory restrictions and/or non-regulated programmed cell death of the tapetum can lead to energy deficiency and consequent pollen abortion. Potential molecular markers for male fertility and sterility in garlic are proposed.