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Ann Bot. 2005 Oct;96(5):779-91. Epub 2005 Jul 26.

Transmitting tissue ECM distribution and composition, and pollen germinability in Sarcandra glabra and Chloranthus japonicus (Chloranthaceae).

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  • 1Department of Botany, University of Toronto, 25 Willcocks Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 3B2.



and Aims Free-flowing surface exudates at the stigmatic (wet versus dry stigma) and adaxial epidermis at the site of angiospermy in carpels of Chloranthaceous species have been proposed to comprise a continuous extracellular matrix (ECM) operating in pollen tube transmission to the ovary. The aim of this research was to establish the spatial distribution and histo/immunochemical composition of the ECM involved in pollen tube growth in Sarcandra glabra and Chloranthus japonicus (Chloranthaceae).


Following confirmation of the pollen tube pathway, the histo/immunochemical make-up of the ECM was determined with histochemistry on fresh tissue to detect cuticle, esterase, proteins, pectins, and lipids and immunolocalization at the level of the TEM on sections from cryofixed/freeze-substituted tissue to detect molecules recognized by antibodies to homogalacturonans (JIM7, 5), arabinogalactan-proteins (JIM13) and cysteine-rich adhesion (SCA).


Pollen germinability is low in both species. When grains germinate, they do so on an ECM comprised of an esterase-positive cuticle proper (dry versus wet stigma). Pollen tubes do not track the surface ECM of stigma or adaxial epidermal cells at the site of angiospermy. Instead, tubes grow between stigmatic cells and subsequently along the inner tangential walls of the stigmatic and adaxial carpel cells at the site of angiospermy. Pollen tubes enter the ovary locule at the base of the funiculus. The stigmatic ECM is distinct by virtue of the presence of anti-JIM5 aggregates, lipids, and a protein recognized by anti-SCA.


The Chloranthaceae joins a growing number of basal angiosperm taxa whereby pollen tubes germinate on a dry versus wet stigma to subsequently grow intercellularly en route to the ovary thereby challenging traditional views that the archetype pollen tube pathway was composed of the surface of stigma and adaxial epidermal cells covered with a free-flowing exudate.

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