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Plant J. 2002 May;30(3):329-36.

The ethanolic fermentation pathway supports respiration and lipid biosynthesis in tobacco pollen.

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Institute of Plant Sciences, Altenbergrain 21, CH-3013 Bern, Switzerland.


Rapid pollen tube growth requires a high rate of sugar metabolism to meet energetic and biosynthetic demands. Previous work on pollen sugar metabolism showed that tobacco pollen carry out efficient ethanolic fermentation concomitantly with a high rate of respiration (Bucher et al., 1995). Here we show that the products of fermentation, acetaldehyde and ethanol, are further metabolised in a pathway that bypasses mitochondrial PDH. The enzymes involved in this pathway are pyruvate decarboxylase, aldehyde dehydrogenase and acetyl-CoA synthetase. Radiolabelling experiments show that during tobacco pollen tube growth label of 14C-ethanol is incorporated into CO2 as well as into lipids and other higher molecular weight compounds. A role for the glyoxylate cycle appears unlikely since activity of malate synthase, a key enzyme of the glyoxylate cycle, could not be detected.

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