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Plant Cell. 1996 Nov;8(11):1935-1949.

Localized Apical Increases of Cytosolic Free Calcium Control Pollen Tube Orientation.

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  • 1Departamento de Biologia Vegetal, Faculdade de Ciencias de Lisboa, R. Ernesto de Vasconcelos, Bloco C2, 1780 Lisboa, Portugal.


To reach the ovule, pollen tubes must undergo many changes in growth direction. We have shown in previous work that elevation of cytosolic free calcium ([Ca2+]c) can manipulate orientation in growing pollen tubes, but our results suggested that [Ca2+]c changes either in the tip or in more distal regions might regulate the critical orienting mechanism. To identify the spatial location of the orienting motor, we combined the techniques of ion imaging with confocal microscopy and localized photoactivation of loaded caged Ca2+ (nitr-5) and diazo-2 (a caged Ca2+ chelator) to manipulate [Ca2+]c in different pollen tube domains. We found that increasing [Ca2+]c on one side of the pollen tube apex induced reorientation of the growth axis toward that side. Similarly, a decrease in [Ca2+]c promoted bending toward the opposite side. These effects could be mimicked by imposing localized external gradients of an ionophore (A23187) or a Ca2+ channel blocker (GdCl3); the pollen tubes bend toward the highest concentration of A23187 and away from GdCl3. Manipulation of [Ca2+]c in regions farther back from the apical zone also induced changes in growth direction, but the new orientation was at random. We observed communication of these distal events to the tip through a slow-moving [Ca2+]c wave. These data show that localized changes of [Ca2+]c in the tip, which could result from asymmetric channel activity, control the direction of pollen tube growth.

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