Identification and characterization of pin and thrum alleles of two genes that co-segregate with the Primula S locus

Jinhong Li, Margaret Webster, Masaki Furuya, Philip M. Gilmartin

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The study of heteromorphy in Primula over the past 140 years has established the reproductive significance of this breeding system. Plants produce either thrum or pin flowers that demonstrate reciprocal herkogamy. Thrums have short styles and produce large pollen from anthers at the mouth of the flower; pins have long styles and produce small pollen from anthers located within the corolla tube. The control of heteromorphy is orchestrated by the S locus with dominant (S) and recessive (s) alleles that comprise a co-adapted linkage group of genes. Thrum plants are heterozygous (Ss) and pin plants are homozygous (ss). Reciprocal crosses between the two forms are required for fertilization; within-morph crosses are impeded by a sporophytic self-incompatibility system. Rare recombination events within the S locus produce self-fertile homostyles. As a first step towards identifying genes located at the S locus, we used fluorescent differential display to screen for differential gene expression in pin and thrum flowers. Rather than only detecting differentially regulated genes, we identified two S locus linked genes by virtue of allelic variation between pin and thrum transcripts. Analysis of pin and thrum plants together with homostyle recombinant reveals that one gene flanks the locus, whereas the other shows complete linkage. One gene is related to Arabidopsis flower-timing genes Col9 and Col10; the other encodes a small predicted membrane protein of unknown function. Notwithstanding the diallelic behaviour of the Primula S locus, analysis of pin and thrum plants reveal three alleles for each gene: two pin and one thrum.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-31
Number of pages14
JournalThe Plant Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2007


  • Primula
  • S locus
  • floral heteromorphy
  • S-linked genes
  • distyly
  • differential display

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