Heat tOlerant TOmato Pollen in Cultivars (HOtTOPIC)


  • Cécile Bousquet-Antonelli, Plant Genome and Development Laboratory, UMR5096
  • Co-PI, Rémy Merret, Plant Genome and Development Laboratory, UMR5096
  • Ravishankar Palanivelu, School of Plant Sciences, UArizona
    • Kesley Pryze, PhD student in the School of Plant Sciences, UArizona


Crop yield loss due to extreme temperatures threatens the food supply and security worldwide. The pollen tube growth phase is one of the weakest links in the heat sensitivity of angiosperm reproduction as it uses the heat stress (HS) response machinery for normal growth. Regulation of translation of pollen mRNAs is one of the molecular bases of this HS response. In Arabidopsis, LARP6C is a regulator of the translation in pollen. These findings from UA-CNRS teams form the basis of their proposal to investigate the role of LARP6 genes in regulating HS response in tomato pollen by identifying their functions in pollen and generate heat-tolerant lines. The team complementary expertise will guide graduate students in using state-of-the-art approaches to generate tools to combat climate change and support sustainable agriculture, which are consistent with the grand challenges of The Arizona Institutes for Resilience (UA) and Contrat d’Objectif et de Performance (CNRS).

Seed and fruit crops both depend on pollination, a process highly sensitive to heat. At elevated temperatures, pollen tubes fail to grow through the female pistil tissues and deliver sperm cells in ovules for fertilization and seed formation. An increase in average worldwide temperatures will thus undermine crop productivity. In this proposal, Cecile and Ravi propose to study LARP6C protein in tomato, previously identified by the CNRS team, using many state-of-the-art procedures to understand its potential roles in pollen tube growth under permissible and HS temperatures. Graduate students will employ in sillico analyses and RNA-related techniques, and associated bioinformatics. The students will also use high throughput image acquisition and analysis of tomato pollen tube behaviors in both normal and HS conditions and generate tools to produce heat-tolerant tomato lines. The tomato reporter tagged lines and CRISPR mutants, some of which to be generated as part of this proposal, are uniquely sophisticated tools that the teams will use to identify mRNA targets in the pollen that are typically not studied and share them with the research community.