International Journal of Molecular Sciences (Mar 2021)

Paving the Way for Fertilization: The Role of the Transmitting Tract

  • Ana Marta Pereira,
  • Diana Moreira,
  • Sílvia Coimbra,
  • Simona Masiero

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 22, no. 2603
p. 2603


Read online

Angiosperm reproduction relies on the precise growth of the pollen tube through different pistil tissues carrying two sperm cells into the ovules’ embryo sac, where they fuse with the egg and the central cell to accomplish double fertilization and ultimately initiate seed development. A network of intrinsic and tightly regulated communication and signaling cascades, which mediate continuous interactions between the pollen tube and the sporophytic and gametophytic female tissues, ensures the fast and meticulous growth of pollen tubes along the pistil, until it reaches the ovule embryo sac. Most of the pollen tube growth occurs in a specialized tissue—the transmitting tract—connecting the stigma, the style, and the ovary. This tissue is composed of highly secretory cells responsible for producing an extensive extracellular matrix. This multifaceted matrix is proposed to support and provide nutrition and adhesion for pollen tube growth and guidance. Insights pertaining to the mechanisms that underlie these processes remain sparse due to the difficulty of accessing and manipulating the female sporophytic tissues enclosed in the pistil. Here, we summarize the current knowledge on this key step of reproduction in flowering plants with special emphasis on the female transmitting tract tissue.