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Plant Mol Biol. 2005 Jun;58(3):333-49.

Two callose synthases, GSL1 and GSL5, play an essential and redundant role in plant and pollen development and in fertility.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.


Callose, a beta-1,3-glucan that is widespread in plants, is synthesized by callose synthase. Arabidopsis thaliana contains a family of 12 putative callose synthase genes (GSL1-12). The role of callose and of the individual genes in plant development is still largely uncertain. We have now used TILLING and T-DNA insertion mutants (gsl1-1, gsl5-2 and gsl5-3) to study the role of two closely related and linked genes, GSL1 and GSL5, in sporophytic development and in reproduction. Both genes are expressed in all parts of the plant. Sporophytic development was nearly normal in gsl1-1 homozygotes and only moderately defective in homozygotes for either of the two gsl5 alleles. On the other hand, plants that were gsl1-1/+ gsl5/gsl5 were severely defective, with smaller leaves, shorter roots and bolts and smaller flowers. Plants were fertile when the sporophytes had either two wild-type GSL1 alleles, or one GSL5 allele in a gsl1-1 background, but gsl1-1/+ gsl5/gsl5 plants produced an extremely reduced number of viable seeds. A chromosome with mutations in both GSL1 and GSL5 rendered pollen infertile, although such a chromosome could be transmitted via the egg. As a result, it was not possible to obtain plants that were homozygous for mutations in both the GSL genes. Pollen grain development was severely affected in double mutant plants. Many pollen grains were collapsed and inviable in the gsl1-1/gsl1-1 gsl5/+ and gsl1-1/+ gsl5/gsl5 plants. In addition, gsl1-1/+ gsl5/gsl5 plants produced abnormally large pollen with unusual pore structures, and had problems with tetrad dissociation. In this particular genotype, while the callose wall formed around the pollen mother cells, no callose wall separated the resulting tetrads. We conclude that GSL1 and GSL5 play important, but at least partially redundant roles in both sporophytic development and in the development of pollen. They are responsible for the formation of the callose wall that separates the microspores of the tetrad, and also play a gametophytic role later in pollen grain maturation. Other GSL genes may control callose formation at different steps during pollen development.

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