Ethylene has been implicated as a sex-determining hormone in cucumber: its exogenous application increases femaleness, and gynoecious genotypes were reported to produce more ethylene. In this study, three full-length ACC oxidase cDNAs were isolated from cucumber floral buds. RFLP analysis of a population that segregates for the F (femaleness) locus indicated that CS-ACO2 is linked to F at a distance of 8.7 cM. Expression of two of the genes, CS-ACO2 and CS-ACO3, was monitored in flowers, shoot tips and leaves of different sex genotypes. In situ mRNA hybridization indicated different patterns of tissue- and stage-specific expression of CS-ACO2 and CS-ACO3 in developing flowers. CS-ACO3 expression in mid-stage female flowers was localized to the nectaries, pistil and in the arrested staminoids, whereas CS-ACO2 transcript levels accumulated later and were found in placental tissue, ovary and staminoids. In male flowers, petals and nectaries expressed both genes, whereas ACO2 expression was strong in pollen of mature flowers. In young buds, strong expression was observed along developing vascular bundles. Four sex genotypes were compared for CS-ACO2 and CS-ACO3 expression in the shoot apex and young leaf. FF genotypes had higher transcript levels in leaves but lower levels in the shoot apex and in young buds, as compared to ff genotypes; the shoot-tip pattern is, therefore, inversely correlated with femaleness, and the possibility of a feedback inhibition mechanism underlying such correlation is discussed. The two CS-ACO genes studied displayed a differential response to ethrel treatment in different organs and sex genotypes, further demonstrating the complexity of the mechanisms controlling ethylene production during cucumber floral development.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank Dr A. Hamilton and Dr D. Grierson for providing the tomato RC13 clone encoding tomato ACC oxidase. We are grateful to Ms Asya Stepansky for help in the in situ experiments. This researchwas supported by grant 411-97-1 from the Israel Science Foundation, and by grant 8979-1-97 for India-Israel cooperation from the Israeli Ministry of Science.
- ACC oxidase
- Cucumis sativus
- Sex expression