Pollen tube growth and guidance in the female tissues of flowering plants is a long-studied and anatomically well-described process. A large number of gene products and chemical compounds involved have been identified in the last 20 years, and some underlying molecular mechanisms including self-incompatibility in the Brassicaceae, Solanaceae and Papaveraceae are now well understood. However, the largest part of the pollen tube pathway inside the transmitting tract towards the ovule harbouring the female gametophyte still requires intensive investigations. Especially in the economically most import plant family, the Poaceae or grasses, progamic pollen tube development is barely understood. Using maize as a model, we propose to divide pollen tube germination, growth and guidance towards the female gametophyte into five distinct phases. The model is adapted from Arabidopsis thaliana, taking anatomical differences and novel genetic and cellular studies into consideration. With the exception of Phase V, all phases seem to be under sporophytic control in grasses.

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