The Effect of Concanavalin A on Membrane Potential and Intracellular pH during Activation In Vitro of Tobacco Pollen Grains

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We studied the effects of short-term (5–10 min) treatment of Nicotiana tabacum L. pollen grains with concanavalin A (ConA) on their activation (changes in the membrane potential and intracellular pH) and germination in vitro. ConA (10–1000 μg/ml) induced plasma membrane hyperpolarization in the vegetative cell and enhanced pollen grain germination. These effects depended on ConA concentration and were interrelated: the value of the membrane potential was negatively correlated with the number of pollen grains germinated for 1 h of their incubation (r = −0.96). In addition, ConA (100 μg/ml) increased the intracellular pH value by 0.3 unit. All these effects of ConA are determined by its specific interaction with carbohydrate determinants because a competitive sugar methyl-α-mannopyranoside (0.1 M) completely blocked ConA effects. The data obtained presume that the specific receptors are present on the surface of pollen grains, evidently on their plasma membrane, and their interaction with lectins has a functional significance for pollen grain activation and germination.

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