Insights from the pollination drop proteome and the ovule transcriptome of Cephalotaxus at the time of pollination drop production




Pirone-Davies, Cary
Prior, Natalie
von Aderkas, Patrick
Smith, Derek
Hardie, Darryl
Friedman, William E.
Matthews, Sarah

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Annals of Botany


Background and Aims: Many gymnosperms produce an ovular secretion, the pollination drop, during reproduction. The drops serve as a landing site for pollen, but also contain a suite of ions and organic compounds, including proteins, that suggests diverse roles for the drop during pollination. Proteins in the drops of species of Chamaecyparis, Juniperus, Taxus, Pseudotsuga, Ephedra and Welwitschia are thought to function in the conversion of sugars, defence against pathogens, and pollen growth and development. To better understand gymnosperm pollination biology, the pollination drop proteomes of pollination drops from two species of Cephalotaxus have been characterized and an ovular transcriptome for C. sinensis has been assembled. Methods: Mass spectrometry was used to identify proteins in the pollination drops of Cephalotaxus sinensis and C. koreana. RNA-sequencing (RNA-Seq) was employed to assemble a transcriptome and identify transcripts present in the ovules of C. sinensis at the time of pollination drop production. Key Results: About 30 proteins were detected in the pollination drops of both species. Many of these have been detected in the drops of other gymnosperms and probably function in defence, polysaccharide metabolism and pollen tube growth. Other proteins appear to be unique to Cephalotaxus, and their putative functions include starch and callose degradation, among others. Together, the proteins appear either to have been secreted into the drop or to occur there due to breakdown of ovular cells during drop production. Ovular transcripts represent a wide range of gene ontology categories, and some may be involved in drop formation, ovule development and pollen–ovule interactions. Conclusions: The proteome of Cephalotaxus pollination drops shares a number of components with those of other conifers and gnetophytes, including proteins for defence such as chitinases and for carbohydrate modification such as β-galactosidase. Proteins likely to be of intracellular origin, however, form a larger component of drops from Cephalotaxus than expected from studies of other conifers. This is consistent with the observation of nucellar breakdown during drop formation in Cephalotaxus. The transcriptome data provide a framework for understanding multiple metabolic processes that occur within the ovule and the pollination drop just before fertilization. They reveal the deep conservation of WUSCHEL expression in ovules and raise questions about whether any of the S-locus transcripts in Cephalotaxus ovules might be involved in pollen–ovule recognition.



Cephalotaxus, proteome, transcriptome, development, gymnosperm, pollen selection


Pirone-Davies, C., Prior, N., von Aderkas, P., Smith, D., Hardie, D., Friedman, W.E. & Matthews, S. (2016). Insights from the pollination drop proteome and the ovule transcriptome of Cephalotaxus at the time of pollination drop production. Annals of Botany, 117(5), 973-984.