In order to accurately target the embryo sac and deliver the sperm cells, the pollen tube has to find an efficient path through the pistil and respond to precise directional cues produced by the female tissues. Although many chemical and proteic signals have been identified to guide pollen tube growth, the mechanism by which the tube changes direction in response to these signals is poorly understood. We designed an experimental setup using a microscope-mounted galvanotropic chamber that allowed us to induce the redirection of in vitro pollen tube growth through a precisely timed and calibrated external signal. Actin destabilization, reduced calcium concentration in the growth medium and inhibition of calcium channel activity decreased the responsiveness of the pollen tube to a tropic trigger. An increased calcium concentration in the medium enhanced this response and was able to rescue the effect of actin depolymerization. Time-lapse imaging revealed that the motion pattern of vesicles and the dynamics of the subapical actin array undergo spatial reorientation prior to the onset of a tropic response. Together these results suggest that the precise targeting of the delivery of new wall material represents a key component in the growth machinery that determines directional elongation in pollen tubes.
© 2011 John Wiley & Sons A/S.