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Old 24th July 2017, 21:13
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Default Glutamate receptor-like channels are essential for chemotaxis and reproduction in mosses

Glutamate receptors are well characterized channels that mediate cell-to-cell communication during neurotransmission in animals. Nevertheless, information regarding their functional role in organisms without nervous systems is still limited. In plants, Glutamate Receptor-like (GLR) genes have been implicated in defence against pathogens, reproduction, control of stomata aperture and light signal transduction1–5. However, the numerous GLR genes present in angiosperm genomes (20 to 70)6 has prevented the observation of strong phenotypes in loss-of-function mutants. Here, we show that in the moss Physcomitrella patens, a basal land plant, mutation of GLR genes cause sperm failure in targeting the female reproductive organs. In addition, we show that GLR genes encode non-selective Ca2+ permeable channels that can regulate cytoplasmic Ca2+ and are needed to induce the expression of a BELL1-like transcription factor essential for zygote development. Our work reveals novel functions for GLRs in sperm chemotaxis and transcriptional regulation. Sperm chemotaxis is essential for fertilization in both animals and early land plants like bryophytes and pteridophytes. Therefore, our results are suggestive that ionotropic glutamate receptors may have been conserved throughout plant evolution to mediate cell-to-cell communication during sexual reproduction.

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