Plant male reproductive development is especially sensitive to spikes in temperature, with direct consequences on fertility and seed productivity, likely due to metabolic and physiological changes resulting from induced epigenetic perturbations. Therefore, understanding the precise molecular mechanisms that underpin plant fertility under environmental constraints is critical to avoid crop yield losses and thus to safeguard future food production.
We identified two Argonaute-like proteins whose activities are required to sustain male fertility in plants under high temperatures. Our work has revealed a novel RNA-guided surveillance mechanism that is critical for plants to sustain male fertility under environmentally constrained conditions by controlling the mutagenic activity of transposons in male germ cells.
See our recent publications:
Lee, Y-S, et al., (2021) A transposon surveillance mechanism that safeguards plant male fertility during stress. Nature Plants 7:34-41.