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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2003 Jun 29;358(1434):1037-45.

The different mechanisms of sporophytic self-incompatibility.

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School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1UG, UK.


Flowering plants have evolved a multitude of mechanisms to avoid self-fertilization and promote outbreeding. Self-incompatibility (SI) is by far the most common of these, and is found in ca. 60% of flowering plants. SI is a genetically controlled pollen-pistil recognition system that provides a barrier to fertilization by self and self-related pollen in hermaphrodite (usually co-sexual) flowering plants. Two genetically distinct forms of SI can be recognized: gametophytic SI (GSI) and sporophytic SI (SSI), distinguished by how the incompatibility phenotype of the pollen is determined. GSI appears to be the most common mode of SI and can operate through at least three different mechanisms, two of which have been characterized extensively at a molecular level in the Solanaceae and Papaveraceae. Because molecular studies of SSI have been largely confined to species from the Brassicaceae, predominantly Brassica species, it is not yet known whether SSI, like GSI, can operate through different molecular mechanisms. Molecular studies of SSI are now being carried out on Ipomoea trifida (Convolvulaceae) and Senecio squalidus (Asteraceae) and are providing important preliminary data suggesting that SSI in these two families does not share the same molecular mechanism as that of the Brassicaceae. Here, what is currently known about the molecular regulation of SSI in the Brassicaceae is briefly reviewed, and the emerging data on SSI in I. trifida, and more especially in S. squalidus, are discussed.

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