Editors' ChoicePlant biology

Matchmaking in Plants

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Science's STKE  07 Aug 2007:
Vol. 2007, Issue 398, pp. tw281
DOI: 10.1126/stke.3982007tw281

In plants, as in animals, fertilization requires male and female gametes selectively and exclusively to meet and fuse. In plants, unlike in animals, it is not the actual gametes that participate in this dance, but rather the gametophytes, which carry immotile gametes. Escobar-Restrepo et al. (see the Perspective by McCormick) have now identified one of the molecules by which the female gametophyte (the embryo sac) recognizes the male gametophyte (the pollen). A receptor kinase, FER, is situated at cell surfaces within the female gametophyte. As the pollen tube approaches, a signaling cascade is initiated in the embryo sac that closes the door to late-arriving pollen tubes and halts further growth of the successful pollen tube, which then releases the male gamete. A good match between FER and its presumed ligand from the pollen tube appears to form the basis of reproductive compatibility.

J.-M. Escobar-Restrepo, N. Huck, S. Kessler, V. Gagliardini, J. Gheyselinck, W.-C. Yang, U. Grossniklaus, The FERONIA receptor-like kinase mediates male-female interactions during pollen tube reception. Science 317, 656-660 (2007). [Abstract] [Full Text]

S. McCormick, Reproductive dialog. Science 317, 606-607 (2007). [Summary] [Full Text]