PerspectivePlant Science

Fertility Goddesses as Trojan Horses

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Science  12 Nov 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6006, pp. 922-923
DOI: 10.1126/science.1198347

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Tip growth is similar in many features in plants and fungi. The tube-like structures that emerge from both plant pollen grains and fungal spores, for instance, exhibit “polarized” cell growth that enables rapid elongation. It is not surprising that, before the 19th century, researchers believed that emerging pollen tubes were invading fungal parasites. On page 968 of this issue, Kessler et al. (1) show that this similarity extends beyond looks: Both pollen tubes and fungi exploit similar receptor proteins that function either as goddesses of fertility that enable fertilization—or as Trojan horses that enable pathogenic fungi to invade plant tissues.