Self-incompatibility (SI) in Papaver rhoeas triggers a ligand-mediated signal transduction cascade, resulting in the inhibition of incompatible pollen tube growth. Using a cytomechanical approach we have demonstrated that dramatic changes to the mechanical properties of incompatible pollen tubes are stimulated by SI induction. Microindentation revealed that SI resulted in a reduction of cellular stiffness and an increase in cytoplasmic viscosity. Whereas the former cellular response is likely to be the result of a drop in cellular turgor, we hypothesize that the latter is caused by as yet unidentified cross-linking events. F-actin rearrangements, a characteristic phenomenon for SI challenge in Papaver, displayed a spatiotemporal gradient along the pollen tube; this suggests that signal propagation occurs in a basipetal direction. However, unexpectedly, local application of SI inducing S-protein did not reveal any evidence for localized signal perception in the apical or subapical regions of the pollen tube. To our knowledge this represents the first mechanospatial approach to study signal propagation and cellular responses in a well-characterized plant cell system. Our data provide the first evidence for mechanical changes induced in the cytoplasm of a plant cell stimulated by a defined ligand
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