Brief Communication

Sperm cells are passive cargo of the pollen tube in plant fertilization

  • Nature Plants 3, Article number: 17079 (2017)
  • doi:10.1038/nplants.2017.79
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Abstract

Sperm cells of seed plants have lost their motility and are transported by the vegetative pollen tube cell for fertilization, but the extent to which they regulate their own transportation is a long-standing debate. Here we show that Arabidopsis lacking two bHLH transcription factors produces pollen without sperm cells. This abnormal pollen mostly behaves like the wild type and demonstrates that sperm cells are dispensable for normal pollen tube development.

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Acknowledgements

We thank F. Tang and Y. Hu (Peking University, China) for technical help in single-cell RNA extraction, library construction and RNA-seq analysis. We are grateful to T. Aoyama and T. Tsuge (Kyoto University, Japan) for suggestions on preparing the manuscript. This work is supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant Nos. 31620103903, 31621001 and 31370344) and partially by the 111 project. The Qu laboratory is supported by the Peking-Tsinghua Joint Center for Life Sciences and the Dresselhaus lab by the Collaborative Research Center SFB924. The supplementary materials contain additional data.

Author information

Author notes

    • Jun Zhang
    • , Qingpei Huang
    •  & Sheng Zhong

    These authors contributed equally to this work.

Affiliations

  1. State Key Laboratory for Protein and Plant Gene Research, Peking-Tsinghua Center for Life Sciences at College of Life Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China

    • Jun Zhang
    • , Qingpei Huang
    • , Sheng Zhong
    • , Jiaying Huang
    • , Xinyang Guo
    • , Qing Lin
    • , Hongya Gu
    •  & Li-Jia Qu
  2. Cell Biology and Plant Biochemistry, Biochemie-Zentrum Regensburg, University of Regensburg, 93053 Regensburg, Germany

    • Andrea Bleckmann
    •  & Thomas Dresselhaus
  3. The National Plant Gene Research Center (Beijing), Beijing 100101, China

    • Hongya Gu
    •  & Li-Jia Qu
  4. The Waksman Institute of Microbiology, Rutgers the State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, New Jersey 08854, USA

    • Juan Dong

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Contributions

L.-J.Q., H.G., J.D. and T.D. designed the study; Q.L. generated single mutants. J.Z. and Q.H. generated double mutants and, together with S.Z. and A.B., performed phenotypic analysis. Q.H. and J.Z. conducted RNA-seq analysis; Q.H. and J.H. performed bioinformatics analysis. X.G. and S.Z. performed the SIV PT attraction assay. L.-J.Q., J.Z., S.Z., H.G., J.D. and T.D. interpreted the data and wrote the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Li-Jia Qu.

Supplementary information

PDF files

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Information

    Supplementary Figures 1-7, Supplementary Tables 1 and 2, Supplementary Methods, Supplementary References.