The fusion of sperm cells and the function of male germ unit (MGU) of tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L)
Sperm cells released from in vivo-in vitro grown pollen tubes of tobacco are associated in pairs and initially enclosed by the plasma membrane of the pollen tube. When the sperm cells are placed together, using glass microinjector needles, in an enzymatic solution, up to half undergo cellular fusion with subsequent nuclear fusion. The frequency of sperm cell fusion decreases with time during the elongation of the pollen tube, suggesting that mechanisms inhibiting self-fusion of sperm cells may develop as the pollen tube elongates through the style toward the ovule. This tendency may play an important role in inhibiting fusion of the two sperm cells inside the calcium-rich synergid where the male germ unit dissociates and sperm cells are transported to their target cells - the egg and central cell.