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Clarifying the Mechanism That Prevents Inbreeding in Solanaceous Plants for the First Time in the World

 Prof. Seiji Takayama and his research team from Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST) have clarified for the first time in the world the mechanism whereby solanaceous (nightshade family of) plants, using several types of proteins similar to those of an animals’ immune system, avoid inbreeding among themselves. This finding appeared in the “Science,” a U.S. science journal.
 The research team underwent a detailed examination on each pollination-related protein contained in the pollens and pistils of petunias, a solanaceous plant which is also grown as a houseplant. When pollen from the same plant, or genetically close pollen, becomes attached to a pistil, the pollen is killed by the toxin protein contained in the pistil in order to prevent self-pollination. Other pollens can detoxify the toxin in the pistil and pollinate.
 Cross-fertilization between plant families with close genetic information results in an increase of progeny with similar genetic properties, which causes an inability to respond to a sudden change of the environment, which in turn means an increased risk of extinction. Avoiding self-pollination, which is not good for progeny, is a mechanism used by plants to secure their genetic diversity.
 In addition, rosaceae plants are considered to have the same mechanism as solanaceous plants. If any farm products such as apples (a rosaceae plant) can be made able to pollinate with their own pollen through selective breeding, this could save the time and labor of pollination work, which may result in a reduction of production costs.
Contact : the Graduate School of Biological Sciences, Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST)
Phone or E-mail 0743-72-5450
Website http://www.naist.jp/en/