The Nicotiana tabacum transmitting tissue is a highly specialized file of metabolically active cells that is the pathway for pollen tubes from the stigma to the ovules where fertilization occurs. It is thought to be essential to pollen tube growth because of the nutrients and guidance it provides to the pollen tubes. It also regulates gametophytic self-incompatibility in the style. To test the function of the transmitting tissue in pollen tube growth and to determine its role in regulating prezygotic interspecific incompatibility, genetic ablation was used to eliminate the mature transmitting tissue, producing a hollow style. Despite the absence of the mature transmitting tissue and greatly reduced transmitting-tissue-specific gene expression, self-pollen tubes had growth to the end of the style. Pollen tubes grew at a slower rate in the transmitting-tissue-ablated line during the first 24 h post-pollination. However, pollen tubes grew to a similar length 40 h post-pollination with and without a transmitting tissue. Ablation of the N. tabacum transmitting tissue significantly altered interspecific pollen tube growth. These results implicate the N. tabacum transmitting tissue in facilitating or inhibiting interspecific pollen tube growth in a species-dependent manner and in controlling prezygotic reproductive barriers.
- Interspecific incompatibility