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Pollination and seed set in tropical wetland grasses

TitlePollination and seed set in tropical wetland grasses
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsSubba Reddi, C, Raju, NSN, Subba Rao, MV
JournalNordic Journal of Botany
Page range354-365

This study concerns 39 different grass species occurring in the wetland regions of Godavari delta in the west Godavari district (16°15′–17°30′N and 80°50′–81°55′E) of Andhra Pradesh, southern India. In each species, the sexual status of lemmas, the period of stigma receptivity, pollen/ovule ratio, pollen longevity and daily pollen release were examined. The functional sexual systems were determined after performing controlled pollinations and testing seed quality by weight and germination potential. The florets of 35 species are morphologically hermaphroditic. Among the other four species, Chionachne koenigii and Iseilema laxum are monoecious; Chrysopogon aciculatus and Pennisetum pedicellatum are andromonoecious. Examination of the sequential opening of florets and controlled pollinations revealed that C. koenigii and I. laxum are obligate outcrossers with incompatibility to geitonogamous pollen; C. aciculatus and P.pedicellatum have a high level of compatibility to xenopollen. These and another nine species were treated as predominantly outcrossing species. Yet another five species were predominantly self-fertilized, while the remaining 21 species displayed a mixed breeding system. In a majority of the species the P/O ratios are not high and thus do not conform to the expected large P/O ratios in wind-pollinated plants and postulated breeding systems except in a few species. The majority of these grasses shed pollen over a short period spreading from 2 am to 8 am, when usually low turbulent conditions exist, thus allowing short distance transport and restricted pollen shadows with higher concentration of pollen near the source. This appears to be the appropriate strategy for maximization of pollination in view of the short lifespan of pollen that extends mostly over 1–3 h period, and the patchy distribution of the grasses under study. The restricted pollen shadows facilitate the low levels of pollen production in the grass species under study to fertilize most or all the available ovules.

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