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Development. 1997 Jun;124(12):2489-98.

Pollen tube guidance by the female gametophyte.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of Rochester, NY 14627, USA.


In flowering plants, pollen grains germinate on the pistil and send pollen tubes down the transmitting tract toward ovules. Previous genetic studies suggested that the ovule is responsible for long-range pollen tube guidance during the last phase of a pollen tube's journey to the female gametes. It was not possible, however, to unambiguously identify the signaling cells within an ovule: the haploid female gametophyte or the diploid sporophytic cells. In an effort to distinguish genetically between these two possibilities, we have used a reciprocal chromosomal translocation to generate flowers wherein approximately half the ovules do not contain a functional female gametophyte but all ovules contain genotypically normal sporophytic cells. In these flowers, pollen tubes are guided to the normal but not to the abnormal female gametophytes. These results strongly suggest that the female gametophyte is responsible for pollen tube guidance, but leave open the possibility that the gametophyte may accomplish this indirectly through its influence on some sporophytic cells.

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