Dynamic F-actin movement is essential for fertilization in Arabidopsis thaliana

Elife. 2014 Oct 10:3:e04501. doi: 10.7554/eLife.04501.


In animals, microtubules and centrosomes direct the migration of gamete pronuclei for fertilization. By contrast, flowering plants have lost essential components of the centrosome, raising the question of how flowering plants control gamete nuclei migration during fertilization. Here, we use Arabidopsis thaliana to document a novel mechanism that regulates F-actin dynamics in the female gametes and is essential for fertilization. Live imaging shows that F-actin structures assist the male nucleus during its migration towards the female nucleus. We identify a female gamete-specific Rho-GTPase that regulates F-actin dynamics and further show that actin-myosin interactions are also involved in male gamete nucleus migration. Genetic analyses and imaging indicate that microtubules are dispensable for migration and fusion of male and female gamete nuclei. The innovation of a novel actin-based mechanism of fertilization during plant evolution might account for the complete loss of the centrosome in flowering plants.

Keywords: F-actin; Rho-GTPase; arabidopsis; cytoskeleton; fertilization; gamete nuclear migration; plant biology; reproduction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis / cytology
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Fertilization*
  • Microtubules / metabolism
  • Myosins / metabolism
  • Ovule / metabolism
  • Pollen / metabolism
  • Protein Transport
  • Time-Lapse Imaging
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism


  • Actins
  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Myosins
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins

Grants and funding

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.