In flowering plants, double fertilization is normally accomplished by the first pollen tube, with the fertilized ovule subsequently inhibiting the attraction of a second pollen tube. However, the mechanism of second-pollen-tube avoidance remains unknown. We discovered that failure to fertilize either the egg cell or the central cell compromised second-pollen-tube avoidance in Arabidopsis thaliana. A similar disturbance was caused by disrupting the fertilization-independent seed (FIS) class polycomb-repressive complex 2 (FIS-PRC2), a central cell- and endosperm-specific chromatin-modifying complex for gene silencing. Therefore, the two female gametes have evolved their own signaling pathways. Intriguingly, second-pollen-tube attraction induced by half-successful fertilization allowed the ovules to complete double fertilization, producing a genetically distinct embryo and endosperm. We thus propose that each female gamete independently determines second-pollen-tube avoidance to maximize reproductive fitness in flowering plants.
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