Analysis of a chalcone synthase mutant in Ipomoea purpurea reveals a novel function for flavonoids: amelioration of heat stress.
Flavonoids are thought to function in the plant stress response and male fertility in some, but not all, species. We examined the effects of a self-fertile chalcone synthase null allele, a, for the effects of heat and light stress on fertilization success and flower production in Ipomoea purpurea. Pollen recipients and pollen donors of both homozygous genotypes exhibit reduced fertilization success at high temperatures, indicating that high temperature acts as a stress-lowering fertilization success. Homozygous aa individuals exhibit reduced male and female fertilization success, compared to AA individuals, at high temperatures but not at low temperatures. In addition, aa individuals produce fewer flowers than AA individuals at low temperatures, but not at high temperatures. These results suggest that flavonoids alleviate heat stress on fertilization success. They also suggest that pleiotropic effects at the A locus may explain the low frequency of the a allele in natural populations.
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