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Plant Sex: Pollen Tubes on the Move

Mae West said that anything worth doing is worth doing slowly. Plants would probably agree, if they could. Courtship in flowering plants begins when pollen lands on the receptive surface (stigma) of a carpel, the female part of the flower. The ensuing dance of biochemical signals and responses culminates in the flower's decision to accept or reject the suitor. A variety of molecules have been implicated in the recognition process, including flavanols, lipids, and receptor kinases.1,2 If the in

Barry Palevitz

Mae West said that anything worth doing is worth doing slowly. Plants would probably agree, if they could.

Courtship in flowering plants begins when pollen lands on the receptive surface (stigma) of a carpel, the female part of the flower. The ensuing dance of biochemical signals and responses culminates in the flower's decision to accept or reject the suitor. A variety of molecules have been implicated in the recognition process, including flavanols, lipids, and receptor kinases.1,2 If the interaction is compatible, the pollen grain extends a tube that by squeezing through exudates and a matrix of glycoproteins and polysaccharides covering female cells, grows inside and down the connecting style portion of the carpel until it reaches the ovary at the bottom. Each pollen tube carries two nonmotile sperm thar are bound for egg-bearing structures called ovules inside the ovary.

But how do pollen tubes so reliably end up where...

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