Self-incompatibility (SI) is the ability of a fertile hermaphrodite flowering plant to prevent self-fertilization by discriminating between self and nonself pollen. Japanese plum (Prunus salicina Lindl.), a species of the Rosaceae family, carries the S-RNase-mediated gametophytic self-incompatibility (GSI) system. This system was first identified in Solanaceae (Anderson et al., 1986) and later in Rosaceae (Sassa et al., 1992) and in Scrophulariaceae (Xue et al., 1996). Research in the three botanical families is brought together in an attempt to explore the S-RNase-mediated GSI system.
In GSI, the inhibition of a pollen grain is based on its haploid genotype (termed S-haplotype). SI is manifested if the S-haplotype of the pollen is carried also by the pollinated flower (McCubbin and Kao, 2000). The haplotype is conferred by a S-locus, which contains, among others, the style-specific expressed S-RNase and the pollen-specific expressed F-box genes (McClure et al., 1989; Zhu et al., 2004). Both genes are heteroallelic and are suspected of being involved in determining the specific self-pollen rejection; however, the mechanism of the system is still not fully understood. Several reviews describing the current perception of the S-RNase-mediated GSI system have been published recently (Goldway et al., 2007; McClure and Franklin-Tong, 2006; Takayama and Isogai, 2005).
As a result of the SI, for obtaining satisfactory yield, it is essential that Japanese plum orchards contain at least two cultivars that serve as pollinators of each other. Before the molecular genetic era, compatibility was determined in field experiments by using natural and hand-pollination of cultivar couples. However, because agrotechnical and environmental factors affect fruit-set levels, the method is inaccurate. Although S-RNase alleles are well known and have been studied for more than a decade, the pollen F-Box gene was identified only recently, first in Antirrhinum (Lai et al., 2002) and then in almond (Prunus dulcis) and japanese apricot (Prunus mume) (Entani et al., 2003; Ushijima et al., 2003), both of the Prunus genus included in Prunoideae, a subfamily of Rosaceae, in Petunia inflata of the Solanaceae (Sijacic et al., 2004), and recently in apple (Malus domestica) and japanese pear (Pyrus pyrifolia) (Cheng et al., 2006; Sassa et al., 2007), which are in Maloideae, another subfamily of Rosaceae. The gene was termed SLF (S-Locus F-box) by Entani et al. (2003) and also SFB (S-haplotype-specific F-Box protein) by Ushijima et al. (2003). In this article, we followed the latter, which has been already applied to other Prunus species.
Because both the S-RNase and the SFB genes are multiallelic and are characteristic of each of the S-haplotypes, they are ideal markers for molecular S-typing. To date, 14 S-RNases were cloned from japanese plum (Beppu et al., 2002, 2003; Sapir et al., 2004).
In the present work, seven japanese plum SFBs were cloned from nine cultivars. Five SFBs were also described in a recent work of Zhang et al. (2007).
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