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Male gametophyte development and function in angiosperms: a general concept

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Overview of pollen development.


Male gametophyte development of angiosperms is a complex process that requires coordinated activity of different cell types and tissues of both gametophytic and sporophytic origin and the appropriate specific gene expression. Pollen ontogeny is also an excellent model for the dissection of cellular networks that control cell growth, polarity, cellular differentiation and cell signaling. This article describes two sequential phases of angiosperm pollen ontogenesis—developmental phase leading to the formation of mature pollen grains, and a functional or progamic phase, beginning with the impact of the grains on the stigma surface and ending at double fertilization. Here we present an overview of important cellular processes in pollen development and explosive pollen tube growth stressing the importance of reserves accumulation and mobilization and also the mutual activation of pollen tube and pistil tissues, pollen tube guidance and the communication between male and female gametophytes. We further describe the recent advances in regulatory mechanisms involved such as posttranscriptional regulation (including mass transcript storage) and posttranslational modifications to modulate protein function, intracellular metabolic signaling, ionic gradients such as Ca2+ and H+ ions, cell wall synthesis, protein secretion and intercellular signaling within the reproductive tissues.

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The authors thank Barbora Honysová for drawing the Figs. 1 and 2 and Nina Lindstrøm Friggens for assistance with drawing Fig. 3 and the language editing of the manuscript. The authors acknowledge the financial support from the Czech Science Foundation Grants No. 15-22720S, 14-32292S, P305/12/2611 and 15-16050S and Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport CR project COST LD14109.

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Correspondence to David Honys.

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Communicated by Enrico Schleiff.

A contribution to the special issue ‘Pollen development and stress response’.

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Transcriptome profile of Arabidopsis cysteine-rich receptor-like protein kinases. The five CRK genes with enriched expression in pollen and in sperm cells are highlighted. (TIFF 173 kb)


The list of Arabidopsis protein kinases identified in the transcriptomic (Honys and Twell 2003), proteomic (Grobei et al. 2009) and phosphoproteomic (Mayank et al. 2012) datasets of mature pollen. (XLSX 1477 kb)


Arabidopsis cysteine-rich polypeptides of < 150 aa’s and predicted as secreted proteins outsourced from UniProt protein repository and analysed by SignalP (Petersen et al. 2011) and SecretomeP (Bendtsen et al. 2004). Dataset 2 is a list of Arabidopsis cysteine-rich receptor-like protein kinases with predicted single pass membrane helices and membrane localization. (XLSX 66 kb)


A list of Arabidopsis GPI-anchored proteins with predicted secretion by signalP and secretomeP as well as their putative C-terminal GPI-anchor site based on Big-Pi (Eisenhaber et al. 2003) and PredGPI prediction algorithms (Pierlioni et al. 2008). (XLSX 49 kb)

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Hafidh, S., Fíla, J. & Honys, D. Male gametophyte development and function in angiosperms: a general concept. Plant Reprod 29, 31–51 (2016).

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