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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Anatomy solves the puzzle of explosive pollen release in wind-pollinated urticalean rosids

Giseli D Pedersoli, Flávia M Leme, Viviane G Leite, Simone P Teixeira
American Journal of Botany 2019 March 15
30875436

PREMISE OF THE STUDY: This study details the unusual synorganization of the staminate flower in wind-pollinated urticalean rosids to add the missing pieces that complete the puzzle of the explosive mechanism of pollen release in this group.

METHODS: Flower buds and flowers were analyzed using light and scanning electron microscopy.

KEY RESULTS: The pistillode, stamens, and sepals form a floral apparatus that explosively releases pollen to be carried by the wind. The anthers dehisce when the stamens are still inflexed on the floral bud and are enveloped by the sepals and supported by an inflated pistillode. The distension of the filaments presses the pistillode, which decreases the pressure exerted on the anthers by releasing the air accumulated internally through its apical orifice. The extended filaments and the dehiscent free anthers move rapidly outward from the center of the flower. This movement of the filaments is then blocked by the robust basally united sepals, which causes a rapid inversion of the anther position, thus hurling the pollen grains far from the flower. The pollen grains are released grouped by the mucilage produced in high quantity in the cells found in all floral organs.

CONCLUSIONS: The anatomical structure of the pistillode and the finding of mucilaginous cells are the main features that help in the understanding the explosive mechanism of pollen release in urticalean rosids. The pistillode can be considered an exaptation because it was evolved later to provide a new role in the plant, optimizing male fitness.

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