J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2009, Vol. 51 ›› Issue (8): 727-739.DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7909.2009.00842.x

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Pollen Tube Growth: a Delicate Equilibrium Between Secretory and Endocytic Pathways

Alessandra Moscatelli* and Aurora Irene Idilli   

  1. Dipartimento di Biologia L. Gorini, Università degli Studi di Milano, Via Celoria 26, 20133, Milano, Italy
  • Received:2009-02-25 Accepted:2009-04-20 Published:2009-08-17
  • About author:* Author for correspondence Tel: +39 2 5031 4843; Fax: +39 2 5031 4840; E-mail: alessandra.moscatelli@unimi.it


Although pollen tube growth is a prerequisite for higher plant fertilization and seed production, the processes leading to pollen tube emission and elongation are crucial for understanding the basic mechanisms of tip growth. It was generally accepted that pollen tube elongation occurs by accumulation and fusion of Golgi-derived secretory vesicles (SVs) in the apical region, or clear zone, where they were thought to fuse with a restricted area of the apical plasma membrane (PM), defining the apical growth domain. Fusion of SVs at the tip reverses outside cell wall material and provides new segments of PM. However, electron microscopy studies have clearly shown that the PM incorporated at the tip greatly exceeds elongation and a mechanism of PM retrieval was already postulated in the mid-nineteenth century. Recent studies on endocytosis during pollen tube growth showed that different endocytic pathways occurred in distinct zones of the tube, including the apex, and led to a new hypothesis to explain vesicle accumulation at the tip; namely, that endocytic vesicles contribute substantially to V-shaped vesicle accumulation in addition to SVs and that exocytosis does not involve the entire apical domain. New insights suggested the intriguing hypothesis that modulation between exo- and endocytosis in the apex contributes to maintain PM polarity in terms of lipid/protein composition and showed distinct degradation pathways that could have different functions in the physiology of the cell. Pollen tube growth in vivo is closely regulated by interaction with style molecules. The study of endocytosis and membrane recycling in pollen tubes opens new perspectives to studying pollen tube-style interactions in vivo.

Moscatelli A, Idilli AI (2009). Pollen tube growth: a delicate equilibrium between secretory and endocytic pathways. J. Integr. Plant Biol. 51(8), 727–739.

Key words: endocytosis, exocytosis, membrane recycling, polarized growth, pollen tube.

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