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Biophys J. 2011 Oct 19;101(8):1844-53. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2011.08.016.

Chemically mediated mechanical expansion of the pollen tube cell wall.

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Department of Physics, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

Erratum in

  • Biophys J. 2012 Dec 7;101(11):2854.


Morphogenesis of plant cells is tantamount to the shaping of the stiff cell wall that surrounds them. To this end, these cells integrate two concomitant processes: 1), deposition of new material into the existing wall, and 2), mechanical deformation of this material by the turgor pressure. However, due to uncertainty regarding the mechanisms that coordinate these processes, existing models typically adopt a limiting case in which either one or the other dictates morphogenesis. In this report, we formulate a simple mechanism in pollen tubes by which deposition causes turnover of cell wall cross-links, thereby facilitating mechanical deformation. Accordingly, deposition and mechanics are coupled and are both integral aspects of the morphogenetic process. Among the key experimental qualifications of this model are: its ability to precisely reproduce the morphologies of pollen tubes; its prediction of the growth oscillations exhibited by rapidly growing pollen tubes; and its prediction of the observed phase relationships between variables such as wall thickness, cell morphology, and growth rate within oscillatory cells. In short, the model captures the rich phenomenology of pollen tube morphogenesis and has implications for other plant cell types.

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