A set of cDNAs that are expressed in tomato anthers were isolated . We further characterized two of these cDNAs (LAT56 and LAT59) and their corresponding genomic clones. LAT56 and LAT59 show low levels of steady-state mRNA in immature anthers and maximal levels in mature anthers and pollen. The LAT56 and LAT59 genes are single-copy in the tomato genome, and are linked on chromosome 3, approximately 5 cM apart. Although these cDNAs did not cross-hybridize, their deduced protein sequences (P56 and P59) have 54% amino acid identity. The LAT56 and LAT59 genes each have two introns, but they are located in non-homologous positions. P56 and P59 show significant protein sequence similarity to pectate lyases of plant pathogenic bacteria. The similarity of P56 and P59 to the bacterial pectate lyases is equivalent to the homology described for different pectate lyase sequences of the genus Erwinia. We suggest that the pollen expression of LAT56 and LAT59 might relate to a requirement for pectin degradation during pollen tube growth. © 1989 Kluwer Academic Publishers.