Author(s): Lush WM, Grieser F, WoltersArts M
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Abstract Pollen tubes navigate the route from stigma to ovule with great accuracy, but the cues that guide them along this route are not known. We reproduced the environment on the stigma of Nicotiana alata by immersing pollen in stigma exudate or oil close to an interface with an aqueous medium. The growth of pollen in this culture system mimicked growth on stigmas: pollen grains hydrated and germinated, and pollen tubes grew toward the aqueous medium. The rate-limiting step in pollen germination was the movement of water through the surrounding exudate or oil. By elimination of other potential guidance cues, we conclude that the directional supply of water probably determined the axis of polarity of pollen tubes and resulted in growth toward the interface. We propose that a gradient of water in exudate is a guidance cue for pollen tubes on the stigma and that the composition of the exudate must be such that it is permeable enough for pollen hydration to occur but not so permeable that the supply of water becomes nondirectional. Pollen tube penetration of the stigma may be the most frequently occurring hydrotropic response of higher plants.
This article was published in Plant Physiol
and referenced in Agrotechnology