During angiosperm reproduction, one of the two synergid cells within the female gametophyte undergoes cell death prior to fertilization. The pollen tube enters the female gametophyte by growing into the synergid cell that undergoes cell death and releases its two sperm cells within the degenerating synergid cytoplasm to effect double fertilization. In Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) and many other species, synergid cell death is dependent upon pollination. However, the mechanism by which the pollen tube causes synergid cell death is not understood. As a first step toward understanding this mechanism, we defined the temporal relationship between pollen tube arrival at the female gametophyte and synergid cell death in Arabidopsis. Using confocal laser scanning microscopy, light microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, and real-time observation of these two events in vitro, we demonstrate that synergid cell death initiates after the pollen tube arrives at the female gametophyte but before pollen tube discharge. Our results support a model in which a signaling cascade triggered by pollen tube-synergid cell contact induces synergid cell death in Arabidopsis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Plant Science