Pollen Tube Entrance in the Embryo Sac and Fertilization

  • J. L. van Went


In angiosperm plants the interaction between male and female reproductive organs results in double fertilization: the fusion of one sperm cell with the egg cell, and the fusion of the second sperm cell with the central cell. Most of our knowledge of the final stages of the sexual reproduction process, the entrance of the pollen tube in the embryo sac and the actual fertilization events, is based on microscopical observations of fixed and sectioned materials (Jensen 1972; Van Went and Willemse 1984). The embryo sac is positioned deeply inside the ovule, surrounded by a large quantity of untransparant sporophytic tissue, which prevents its direct observation, and the manipulation and experimental analysis of the events that take place. Since recent years it has become possible to separate the embryo sac and its composing cells from the surrounding sporophytic cells by the use of enzymatic maceration techniques (Hu et al. 1985; Zhou and Yang 1986; Mol 1986; Huang and Russell 1989; Wagner et al. 1989; Van Went and Kwee 1990; Kranz et al. 1991). These techniques allow the isolation of embryo sacs and composing cells in large quantities and in living and intact condition. Presently, in a number of laboratories molecular and cell biological research is in progress focused on the developmental and functional aspects of the female gametophyte and gametes. Also sperm cells can be isolated in living condition and large quantities (Theunis et al. 1991).


Pollen Tube Sperm Cell Female Gametophyte Female Gamete Sperm Cell Plasma Membrane 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Recommended literature

  1. Heslop-Harrison J, Heslop-Harrison Y (1989) Myosin associated with the surfaces of organelles, vegetative nuclei and generative cells in angiosperm pollen grains and tubes. J Cell Sci 94: 319–325Google Scholar
  2. Hu S-Y, Li L-G, Zhou C (1985) Isolation of viable embryo sacs and their protoplasts of Nicotiana tabacum. Acta Bot Sin 27: 337–344Google Scholar
  3. Huang B-Q, Russell SD (1989) Isolation of fixed and viable eggs, central cells and embryo sacs from ovules of Plumbago zeylanica. Plant Physiol 90: 9–12PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Jensen WA (1964) Observations on the fusion of nuclei in plants. J Cell Biol 23: 669–672PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Jensen WA (1972) The embryo sac and fertilization in angiosperms. Harold L. Lyon Arbor Lect 3: 1–32Google Scholar
  6. Kirk JTO, Tilney-Bassett RAE (1978) The plastids: their chemistry, structure, growth and inheritance. Elesevier/Ńorth Holland Biomed Press, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  7. Kranz E, Bautor J, Lrz H (1991) In vitro fertilization of single, isolated gametes of maize mediated by electrofusion. Sex Plant Reprod 4: 12–16Google Scholar
  8. Mogensen HL (1982) Double fertilization in barley and the cytological explanation for haploid embryo formation, embryoless caryopses, and ovule abortion. Carlsberg Res Commun 47: 313–354CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Mol R (1986) Isolation of protoplasts from female gametophytes of Torenia foumieri. Plant Cell Rep 3: 202–206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Russell SD (1982) Fertilization in Plumbago zeylanica: entry and discharge of the pollen tube in the embryo sac. Can J Bot 60: 2219–2230CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Russell SD (1983) Fertilization in Plumbago zeylanica: gametic fusion and fate of the male cytoplasm. Amer J Bot 70: 410–434CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. RussellSD (1985) Preferential fertilization in Plumbago: ultra-structural evidence for gamete-level recognition in an angiosperm. Proc Natl Acad Sci, USA 82: 6129–6132PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Theunis CH (1990) Ultrastructural analysis of Spinacia oleracea sperm cells isolated from mature pollen grains. Protoplasma 158: 176–181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Theunis CH, Pierson ES, Cresti M (1991) Isolation of male and female gametes in higher plants. Sex Plant Reprod 4: 145–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Van Aelst AC, Theunis CH, Van Went JL (1990) Freeze-fracture studies on isolated sperm cells of Spinacia oleracea L. Protoplasma 53: 204–207CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Van Went JL, Willemse MTM (1984) Fertilization. In: Johri BM (ed) Embryology of angiosperms. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York Tokyo, pp 273–317CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Van Went JL, Kwee H-S (1990) Enzymatic isolation of living embryo sacs of Petunia. Sex Plant Reprod 3: 257–262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Wagner VT, Kardolus JP, Van Went JL (1989) Isolation of the lily embryo sac. Sex Plant Reprod 2: 219–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Zhou C, Yang HY (1986) Isolation of embryo sacs by enzymatic maceration and its potential in haploid study. In: Hu SY, Yang HY (eds) Haploids of higher plants in vitro. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 192–203Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. L. van Went
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Plant Cytology and MorphologyWageningen Agricultural UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations