Plant biology

Fungal Invasion or Pollination?

Science Signaling  16 Nov 2010:
Vol. 3, Issue 148, pp. ec350
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.3148ec350

When pollen finds a compatible flower, it grows a pollen tube that must find the egg cell and release the sperm it carries. In searching for genes that affect pollen tubes in Arabidopsis, Kessler et al. (see the Perspective by Govers and Angenent) found a gene previously implicated in susceptibility to powdery mildew infection (the NTA gene). The NTA gene encodes a seven-pass transmembrane protein, which, in combination with a receptor-like kinase called Fer, is needed for successful pollen tube growth; both sets of proteins are also needed for successful powdery mildew invasion. These processes hence share common mechanisms of cell invasion, but where they diverge is in the outcome: embryogenesis or pathogenesis.

S. A. Kessler, H. Shimosato-Asano, N. F. Keinath, S. E. Wuest, G. Ingram, R. Panstruga, U. Grossniklaus, Conserved molecular components for pollen tube reception and fungal invasion. Science 330, 968–971 (2010). [Abstract] [Full Text]

F. Govers, G. C. Angenent, Fertility goddesses as Trojan horses. Science 330, 922–923 (2010). [Abstract] [Full Text]