Volume 89 Issue 12 | p. 41
Issue Date: March 21, 2011

Plant Sex Requires D-Serine

D-Serine signaling helps guide pollen tube cells to their ovule objective
Department: Science & Technology
Keywords: plant reproduction, D-Serine">D-Serine
A plant’s pistil containing eggs. The blue staining represents the expression of serine racemase, which forms D-Serine along the pathway that pollen tube cells take to reach the egg.
Credit: © 2011 Science
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A plant’s pistil containing eggs. The blue staining represents the expression of serine racemase, which forms D-Serine along the pathway that pollen tube cells take to reach the egg.
Credit: © 2011 Science

After pollen lands on a flower, its sperm don’t have the ability to swim to a plant’s ovules. So fertilization instead requires the pollen cells to grow as long as 12 inches so the sperm can reach their ovule target. Now, researchers led by José A. Feijó, a plant scientist at the University of Lisbon, in Portugal, report that D-Serine is involved in the signaling pathways that direct the pollen tube cells to their objective (Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.1201101). D-Serine regulates a calcium ion channel that is found in high density in the pollen tube cell. It is essential for the pollen tube cell’s rapid growth, which delivers the sperm to the ovules located at the bottom of a plant’s pistil. “D-Serine is a novel signaling mechanism in plants,” comments Jose Gutierrez-Marcos, a plant researcher at the University of Warwick, in England. “What is quite exciting is that this D-Serine signaling is quite similar to what is observed in animal neurons,” he adds, where D-Serine also activates ion channels.

 
Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © American Chemical Society

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