Thermogenesis-triggered seed dispersal in dwarf mistletoe


DeBruyn, R.A.J., Paetkau, M., Ross, K.A., Godfrey, D.V., Friedman, C.R. (2015). Thermogenesis-triggered seed dispersal in dwarf mistletoe. Nature Communications, [online] 6


Lodgepole pine dwarf mistletoe (DM), Arceuthobium americanum, is a parasitic flowering plant and forest pathogen in North America. Seed dispersal in DM occurs by explosive discharge. Notably, slight warming of ripe DM fruit in the laboratory can trigger explosions. Previously, we showed that alternative oxidase, a protein involved in endogenous heat production (thermogenesis) in plants, is present in DM fruit. These observations have led us to investigate if thermogenesis induces discharge. Here, infrared thermographs reveal that ripe DM fruits display an anomalous increase in surface temperature by an average of 2.1±0.8°C over an average time of 103±29s (n=9, 95% confidence interval) before dehiscence. Furthermore, both non-isothermal and isothermal modulated differential scanning calorimetry consistently show an exothermic event (∼1Jg-1) in the non-reversible heat flow just prior to discharge. These results support thermogenesis-triggered seed discharge, never before observed in any plant.

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