Chloride fluxes in lily pollen tubes: a critical reevaluation


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Microelectrodes, made from a Cl-selective liquid ion exchanger previously used to measure putative Cl- fluxes in Lilium longiflorum pollen tubes, were characterized. The electrodes were poorly selective, possessing only about 10-fold selectivity for Cl over other anions tested. They had only 2.4-fold selectivity for Cl over the anionic form of the H+ buffer, MES, indicating that the electrode can indirectly detect H+ gradients. Apparent anion influx was detected along the pollen tube shafts and at the grains while apparent anion efflux was detected near the tip of the tube. During oscillating growth, the peak of the oscillating apparent anion efflux at the tip occurred, on average, 7.9 sec after the peak of the growth oscillations. Consideration of the previously characterized H+ fluxes in lily pollen grains and tubes, as well as the poor anion selectivity of the Cl electrodes, indicates that the putative Cl fluxes are in fact changes in the anionic concentration of the buffer resulting from H+ gradients and not changes in Cl concentration. The claim of a central role for Cl in lily pollen tube growth is further undermined by the fact that these tubes grow at the same rate if the Cl content of the growth medium is reduced to trace levels (≤31 μm), and that the grains have only small reserves of Cl. These results lead to the conclusion that Cl fluxes are not a significant component of pollen tube growth and Cl itself is not required for growth.