Chapter

Fertilization in Higher Plants

pp 317-336

The Pollen Tube Oscillator: Towards a Molecular Mechanism of Tip Growth?

  • J. A. FeijóAffiliated withDepartamento de Biologia Vegetal, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa

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Abstract

Pollen grain germination and tube growth have proven to be suitable models for the study of differentiation and growth at the cellular level. Furthermore they may be considered to be a representative example of the tip growth paradigm, and as such, highlight mechanisms that may be applied to a much larger set of cells with tip growth, including most fungi, a number of plants cells and certain specialised animal cells. Since pollen tubes are fairly easy to maintain and manipulate during in vivo experiments, they have become a very popular experimental system. This fact is reflected in the marked increase of the recently published information about the mechanisms that underlie the regulation of its growth (reviews by Mascarenhas 1993; Feijó et al. 1995; Derksen et al. 1996; Taylor and Hepler 1997). Besides other aspects, which are dealt with in more detail in other chapters of this book, one of the issues which emerged recently as more exciting is the fact that pollen tube growth may be characterised in some of its more important characteristics by the existence of pulses, sustained oscillations, or other non-linear temporal and spatial phenomena. In this paper we try to cover these recent advances and their possible impact in the elucidation of the molecular mechanisms that regulate tip growth.