Sexual Plant Reproduction

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 63–71 | Cite as

How to shape a cylinder: pollen tube as a model system for the generation of complex cellular geometry

  • Anja GeitmannEmail author


Expansive growth in plant cells is a formidable problem for biophysical studies, and the mechanical principles governing the generation of complex cellular geometries are still poorly understood. Pollen, the male gametophyte stage of the flowering plants, is an excellent model system for the investigation of the mechanics of complex growth processes. The initiation of pollen tube growth requires first of all, the spatially confined formation of a protuberance. This process must be controlled by the mechanical properties of the cell wall, since turgor is a non-vectorial force. In the elongating tube, cell wall expansion is confined to the apex of the cell, requiring the tubular region to be stabilized against turgor-induced tensile stress. Tip focused surface expansion must be coordinated with the supply of cell wall material to this region requiring the precise, logistical control of intracellular transport processes. The advantage of such a demanding mechanism is the high efficiency it confers on the pollen tube in leading an invasive way of life.


Pollen grain Pollen tube Cell mechanics Invasive growth Germination 



Research in the Geitmann lab is funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Fonds Québécois de la Recherche sur la Nature et les Technologies (FQRNT), and the Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP). Thanks to Youssef Chebli and Louise Pelletier for preparing the scanning electron micrographs. I am grateful to Phil Lintilhac for critically reading the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut de recherche en biologie végétale, Département de sciences biologiquesUniversité de MontréalMontréalCanada

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