Journal Article

A new look at sporoderm ontogeny in <i>Persea americana</i> and the hidden side of development

Nina I. Gabarayeva, Valentina V. Grigorjeva and John R. Rowley

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 105, issue 6, pages 939-955
Published in print June 2010 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online April 2010 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI:
A new look at sporoderm ontogeny in Persea americana and the hidden side of development

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry


Show Summary Details


Background and Aims

The phenomenon of self-assembly, widespread in both the living and the non-living world, is a key mechanism in sporoderm pattern formation. Observations in developmental palynology appear in a new light if they are regarded as aspects of a sequence of micellar colloidal mesophases at genomically controlled initial parameters. The exine of Persea is reduced to ornamentaion (spines and gemmae with underlying skin-like ectexine); there is no endexine. Development of Persea exine was analysed based on the idea that ornamentation of pollen occurs largely by self-assembly.


Flower buds were collected from trees grown in greenhouses over 11 years in order to examine all the main developmental stages, including the very short tetrad period. After fixing, sections were examined using transmission electron microscopy.

Key Results and Conclusions

The locations of future spines are determined by lipid droplets in invaginations of the microspore plasma membrane. The addition of new sporopollenin monomers into these invaginations leads to the appearance of chimeric polymersomes, which, after splitting into two individual assemblies, give rise to both liquid-crystal conical ‘skeletons’ of spines and spherical micelles. After autopolymerization of sporopollenin, spines emerge around their skeletons, nested into clusters of globules. These clusters and single globules between spines appear on a base of spherical micelles. The intine also develops on the base of micellar mesophases. Colloidal chemistry helps to provide a more general understanding of the processes and explains recurrent features of pollen walls from remote taxa.

Keywords: Sporoderm development; exine; sporopollenin; self-assembly; micelles; liquid crystals; Persea americana

Journal Article.  8342 words.  Illustrated.

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

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.