Pollen PCP-B peptides unlock a stigma peptide-receptor kinase gating mechanism for pollination

Sexual reproduction in angiosperms relies on precise communications between the pollen and pistil. The molecular mechanisms underlying these communications remain elusive. We established that in Arabidopsis, a stigmatic gatekeeper, the ANJEA–FERONIA (ANJ–FER) receptor kinase complex, perceives the RAPID ALKALINIZATION FACTOR peptides RALF23 and RALF33 to induce reactive oxygen species (ROS) production in the stigma papillae, whereas pollination reduces stigmatic ROS, allowing pollen hydration. Upon pollination, the POLLEN COAT PROTEIN B-class peptides (PCP-Bs) compete with RALF23/33 for binding to the ANJ–FER complex, leading to a decline of stigmatic ROS that facilitates pollen hydration. Our results elucidate a molecular gating mechanism in which distinct peptide classes from pollen compete with stigma peptides for interaction with a stigmatic receptor kinase complex, allowing the pollen to hydrate and germinate.