Pollen tubes grow rapidly by very fast rates and reach extended lengths to bring about fertilization during plant reproduction. The pollen tube grows exclusively at its tip. Fundamental for such local, tip-focused growth are the presence of internal gradients and transmembrane fluxes of ions. Consequently, vegetative pollen tube cells are an excellent single cell model system to investigate cell biological processes of vesicle transport, cytoskeleton reorganization and regulation of ion transport. The second messenger Ca(2+) has emerged as a central and crucial modulator that not only regulates but also integrates the coordination each of these processes. In this review we reflect on recent advances in our understanding of the mechanisms of Ca(2+) function in pollen tube growth, focusing on its role in basic cellular processes such as control of cell growth, vesicular transport and intracellular signaling by localized gradients of second messengers. In particular we discuss new insights into the identity and role of Ca(2+) conductive ion channels and present experimental addressable hypotheses about their regulation. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled:12th European Symposium on Calcium.
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