15 April 2013

How does anything get fertilized around here, anyway??

My obsession with pollen was reinvigorated today as I again momentarily became the weird woman photographing the ground on Duke's campus (other evidence of my geekery includes mushrooms and bursting heart).

The reason for my interest are those grass anthers wagging around in the breeze. It's not enough that the inflorescence sticks up above the plant. It's not even enough that the anthers are exerted so far out of the rest of the flower. This grass takes it even further by expanding the anther connectives (the piece of tissue connecting the two halves of the anther to each other and the rest of the filament).

With so much pollen floating around, wind pollinated species (like grasses) really need an advantage to get their gametes out there. Given how much pollen sticks to my phone as I walk outside, though, it's hard to imagine how pollen from a compatible plant ever manages to land on a receptive stigma that isn't already covered by pollen from other species.

1 comment:

susannah said...

A recent paper by Andy Reynolds in AmNat tries to answer just that! One of the cool things for this paper is where the model inspiration comes from.