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Plant Cell. Apr 1993; 5(4): 403–418.
PMCID: PMC160280

Ovary and Gametophyte Development Are Coordinately Regulated by Auxin and Ethylene following Pollination.


The differentiation and development of ovules in orchid flowers are pollination dependent. To define the developmental signals and timing of critical events associated with ovule differentiation, we have examined factors that regulate the initial events in megasporogenesis and female gametophyte development and characterized its progression toward maturity and fertilization. Two days after pollination, ovary wall epidermal cells begin to elongate and form hair cells; this is the earliest visible morphological change, and it occurs at least 3 days prior to pollen germination, indicating that signals associated with pollination itself trigger these early events. The effects of inhibitors of ethylene biosynthesis on early morphological changes indicated that ethylene, in the presence of auxin, is required to initiate ovary development and, indirectly, subsequent ovule differentiation. Surprisingly, pollen germination and growth were also strongly inhibited by inhibitors of ethylene biosynthesis, indicating that male gametophyte development is also regulated by ethylene. Detailed characterization of the development of both the female and male gametophyte in pollinated orchid flowers indicated that pollen tubes entered the ovary and grew along the ovary wall for 10 to 35 days, at which time growth was arrested. Approximately 40 days after pollination, coincident with ovule differentiation as indicated by the presence of a single archesporial cell, the direction of pollen tube growth became redirected toward the ovule, suggesting a chemical signaling between the developing ovule and male gametophyte. Taken together, these results indicate that both auxin and ethylene contribute to the regulation of both ovary and ovule development and to the coordination of development of male and female gametophytes.

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Selected References

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Articles from The Plant Cell are provided here courtesy of American Society of Plant Biologists


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