Many flowering plants have adopted self-incompatibility mechanisms to prevent inbreeding and promote out-crosses. In the Solanaceae, Rosaceae and Scrophulariaceae, two separate genes at the highly polymorphic S-locus control self-incompatibility interactions: the S-RNase gene encodes the pistil determinant and the previously unidentified S-gene encodes the pollen determinant. S-RNases interact with pollen S-allele products to inhibit the growth of self-pollen tubes in the style. Pollen-expressed F-box genes showing allelic sequence polymorphism have recently been identified near to the S-RNase gene in members of the Rosaceae and Scrophulariaceae; but until now have not been directly shown to encode the pollen determinant. Here we report the identification and characterization of PiSLF, an S-locus F-box gene of Petunia inflata (Solanaceae). We show that transformation of S1S 1, S1S2 and S2S3 plants with the S2-allele of PiSLF causes breakdown of their pollen function in self-incompatibility. This breakdown of pollen function is consistent with 'competitive interaction,' in which pollen carrying two different pollen S-alleles fails to function in self-incompatibility. We conclude that PiSLF encodes the pollen self-incompatibility determinant.
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