Viagra interferes with plant sexual reproduction

July 13, 2005

Are plants dependent on nitric oxide for successful reproduction? Margarida Prado (Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Portugal) has discovered that pollen tubes depend on nitric oxide (NO) to guide them to the right place to fertilise the plant. In the presence of drugs such as Viagra the plant's sensitivity to NO increases thereby influencing pollen tube bending. Prado will present her work on pollen tube redirection at the Society for Experimental Biology Annual Main Meeting in Barcelona on Thursday 14th July [session P3/C4.5].

Prado subjected Easter Lily (Lilium longiflorum) pollen tubes to an artificial source of NO and then, by removing the NO using a NO scavenger, saw that the re-orientation of the pollen tubes was blocked. "In animal physiology, NO is involved in intercellular communication events and in plants could be acting as a guidance cue for the pollen tube to an unfertilised ovule", Prado explains, "It could work as a safe guard mechanism to block polyspermy, i.e. dual fertilization".

Prado's research was the first to demonstrate a role of NO in pollen tube biology, and further work is being performed to confirm a function of NO in plants similar to that in animals.
-end-


Society for Experimental Biology

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