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Plant Cell. 2007 Dec;19(12):3990-4006. doi: 10.1105/tpc.107.050179. Epub 2007 Dec 28.

A naturally occurring mutation in an Arabidopsis accession affects a beta-D-galactosidase that increases the hydrophilic potential of rhamnogalacturonan I in seed mucilage.

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Laboratoire de Biologie des Semences, Unité Mixte de Recherche 204 Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, AgroParisTech, Institut Jean-Pierre Bourgin, F-78026 Versailles Cedex, France.


The Arabidopsis thaliana accession Shahdara was identified as a rare naturally occurring mutant that does not liberate seed mucilage on imbibition. The defective locus was found to be allelic to the mum2-1 and mum2-2 mutants. Map-based cloning showed that MUCILAGE-MODIFIED2 (MUM2) encodes the putative beta-D-galactosidase BGAL6. Activity assays demonstrated that one of four major beta-D-galactosidase activities present in developing siliques is absent in mum2 mutants. No difference was observed in seed coat epidermal cell structure between wild-type and mutant seed; however, weakening of the outer tangential cell wall by chemical treatment resulted in the release of mucilage from mum2 seed coat epidermal cells, and the mum2 mucilage only increased slightly in volume, relative to the wild type. Consistent with the absence of beta-D-galactosidase activity in the mutant, the inner layer of mucilage contained more Gal. The allocation of polysaccharides between the inner and outer mucilage layers was also modified in mum2. Mass spectrometry showed that rhamnogalacturonan I in mutant mucilage had more branching between rhamnose and hexose residues relative to the wild type. We conclude that the MUM2/BGAL6 beta-D-galactosidase is required for maturation of rhamnogalacturonan I in seed mucilage by the removal of galactose/galactan branches, resulting in increased swelling and extrusion of the mucilage on seed hydration.

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