Pollen tube growth question

Dana Ann Dudle ddudle at steel.ucs.indiana.edu
Thu Apr 13 11:57:26 EST 2000


I have requested help with several plant biology topics in the past few
months, and I have received several terrific responses.  Here is another
topic on which I have been unsuccessful in finding the information I need:

I am teaching an advanced undergraduate course in Plant Population
Biology, primarily focusing on the ecology and evolution of plant breeding
systems and mating strategies.  During a class on the evolutionary
implications of pollen-tube competition in plant populations, a student
stumped me with a question about the mechanism of pollen tube growth. 

The question was not about double fertilization, but rather, about the
formation of the pollen tube itself.. this led to a more general
discussion.  We knew from our readings that calcium, potassium, and boran
affect the water potential on the style, and therefore affect the ability
of the pollen to germinate.  Several students speculated about what the
pollen tube is made of, whether it grows through cell division or cell
expansion, whether it is a part of the male gametophyte, or formed of
stylar tissue (or the dissolving of stylar tissue).  

I found myself unable to accurately dispel some of the more bizarre
suggestions, and also unable to describe with clarity the formation of the
pollen tube, having never really absorbed this information in my plant
biology courses, and having not read the primary literature on the
physiology of pollen. (My reading about pollen tubes has been limited to
the effect of pollen competition on progeny vigor, etc.) 

I wonder if any of you plant-reproductive-physiology types (or
alternatively, any more well-rounded botanists than myself) could offer
suggestions of sources that I could investigate to fill in this hole in my
knowledge?  The texts that I have are not very enlightening on this topic.

Thanks in advance... 

Dana Dudle

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