Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.


Plant fertilization protein found

Fertilization in flowering plants is dependent on a protein that is secreted by the egg cell and activates incoming sperm.

Stefanie Sprunck at the University of Regensburg in Germany and her colleagues show that, in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, the arrival of sperm cells near the egg causes the release of a protein they call EGG CELL 1 (EC1). This triggers the redistribution of a second protein — one linked to fusion of the sex cells, or gametes — from inside the sperm to the sperm cell surface.

Sperm cells interacting with mutant Arabidopsis eggs that have faulty ec1 genes failed to fuse, and the plant's pollen tubes continued to deliver sperm into the embryo sac. These results suggest that EC1 controls gamete fusion.

Science 338, 1093–1097 (2012)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Plant fertilization protein found. Nature 491, 640 (2012).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing