Journal Article

Pollination Drop in <i>Juniperus communis</i>: Response to Deposited Material

Serena Mugnaini, Massimo Nepi, Massimo Guarnieri, Beti Piotto and Ettore Pacini

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 100, issue 7, pages 1475-1481
Published in print December 2007 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online October 2007 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcm253
Pollination Drop in Juniperus communis: Response to Deposited Material

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
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Background and Aims

The pollination drop is a liquid secretion produced by the ovule and exposed outside the micropyle. In many gymnosperms, pollen lands on the surface of the pollination drop, rehydrates and enters the ovule as the drop retracts. The objective of this work was to study the formation of the pollination drop in Juniperus communis, its carbohydrate composition and the response to deposition of conspecific pollen, foreign pollen and other particulate material, in an attempt to clarify the mechanism of pollination drop retraction.

Methods

Branches with female cones close to pollination drop secretion were collected. On the first day of pollination drop exposure, an eyelash mounted on a wooden stick with paraffin was used to collect pollen or silica gel particles, which were then deposited by contact with the drop. Volume changes in pollination drops were measured by using a stereomicroscope with a micrometer eyepiece 3 h after deposition. The volume of non-pollinated control drops was also recorded. On the first day of secretion, drops were also collected for sugar analysis by high-performance liquid chromatography.

Key Results

The pollination drop persisted for about 12 d if not pollinated, and formed again after removal for up to four consecutive days. After pollination with viable conspecific pollen, the drop retracted quickly and did not form again. Partial withdrawal occurred after deposition of other biological and non-biological material. Fructose was the dominant sugar; glucose was also present but at a much lower percentage.

Conclusions

Sugar analysis confirmed the general trend of fructose dominance in gymnosperm pollination drops. Complete pollination drop withdrawal appears to be triggered by a biochemical mechanism resulting from interaction between pollen and drop constituents. The results of particle deposition suggest the existence of a non-specific, particle-size-dependent mechanism that induces partial pollination drop withdrawal. These results suggest that the non-specific response may decrease the probability of pollen landing on the drop, reducing pollination efficiency.

Keywords: Juniperus communis; female cone; gymnosperm reproduction; pollen; pollination drop withdrawal

Journal Article.  4256 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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