Degradome and Secretome of Pollination Drops of Ephedra




von Aderkas, Patrick
Prior, Natalie
Gagnon, Susannah
Little, Stefan
Cross, Tyra
Hardie, Darryl
Borchers, Christoph
Thornburg, Robert
Hou, Chen
Lunny, Alexandra

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Botanical Review


Although secreted proteins (a secretome) are known to occur in gymnosperm pollination drops, this study shows evidence for the presence of a protein degradome for the first time. A protein degradome is composed of protein and peptide fragments, a product of protein breakdown, whereas a secretome is composed of whole, secreted, and often biologically active extracellular proteins. Harvested Ephedra pollination drops from seven species were pooled either by collection date or, in the case of less abundant sample volumes, by species. Samples were processed by one of two methods: 1. gel electophoresis or by 2. liquid-liquid extraction, followed by chromatographic separation. Processed samples were trypsin-digested and analyzed with a Thermo Scientific LTQ Orbitrap Velos. On average, two-thirds of the detected and characterized proteins found in Ephedra spp. pollination drops were intracellular proteins, such as ubiquitin. The remaining third represent proteins known to be secreted, often involved in apoplastic processes such as defense and carbohydrate-modification, typical of known conifer pollination drop proteins. Characterized proteins detected in our comparative study of Ephedra spp drops ranged from 6 in E. monosperma to 20 in E. foeminea. We propose that the intracellular proteins detected are present as the result of nucellar tissue degeneration during pollination drop formation; previous proteomic investigations of pollination drops were in taxa that lack nucellar degeneration during drop formation Discovery of a degradome in pollination drops is novel and significant in that its presence has biological implications for pollination biology. We predict that degradomes in pollination drops are not restricted to Ephedra, but should also occur in species with nucellar tissue breakdown that coincides with pollination drop formation, such as in cycads and Ginkgo and some Pinaceae. Analysis of several collection dates of E. monosperma shows a large number of proteins that change over the course of the pollination drop secretion period, which suggests that variation in pollination drop contents over time may be important in the pollination biology of Ephdera.



degradome, Ephedra, gymnosperm reproduction, pollination drop, proteomics, secretome


von Aderkas, P., Prior, N., Gagnon, S., Little, S., Cross, T., Hardie, D., … Lunny, A. (2015). Degradome and secretome of pollination drops of Ephedra. Botanical Review, 81(1), 1-27.