Hypergravity prevents seed production in Arabidopsis by disrupting pollen tube growth

M.E. Musgrave, A.X. Kuang, J. Allen, J.J.W.A. van Loon

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    How tightly land plants are adapted to the gravitational force (g) prevailing on Earth has been of interest because unlike many other environmental factors, g presents as a constant force. Ontogeny of mature angiosperms begins with an embryo that is formed after tip growth by a pollen tube delivers the sperm nucleus to the egg. Because of the importance to plant fitness, we have investigated how gravity affects these early stages of reproductive development. Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh. plants were grown for 13 days prior to being transferred to growth chambers attached to a large diameter rotor, where they were continuously exposed to 2-g or 4-g for the subsequent 11 days. Plants began flowering 1 day after start of the treatments, producing hundreds of flowers for analysis of reproductive development. At 4-g, Arabidopsis flowers self-pollinated normally but did not produce seeds, thus derailing the entire life cycle. Pollen viability and stigma esterase activity were not compromised by hypergravity; however, the growth of pollen tubes into the stigmas was curtailed at 4-g. In vitro pollen germination assays showed that 4-g average tube length was less than half that for 1-g controls. Closely related Brassica rapa L., which produces seeds at 4-g, required forces in excess of 6-g to slow in vitro tube growth to half that at 1-g. The results explain why seed production is absent in Arabidopsis at 4-g and point to species differences with regard to the g-sensitivity of pollen tube growth.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)863-870
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


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