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Pollination Drop in Relation to Cone Morphology in Podocarpaceae: A Novel Reproductive Mechanism

P. B. Tomlinson, J. E. Braggins and J. A. Rattenbury
American Journal of Botany
Vol. 78, No. 9 (Sep., 1991), pp. 1289-1303
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2444932
Page Count: 15
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Pollination Drop in Relation to Cone Morphology in Podocarpaceae: A Novel Reproductive Mechanism
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Abstract

Observation of ovulate cones at the time of pollination in the southern coniferous family Podocarpaceae demonstrates a distinctive method of pollen capture, involving an extended pollination drop. Ovules in all genera of the family are orthotropous and single within the axil of each fertile bract. In Microstrobus and Phyllocladus ovules are erect (i.e., the micropyle directed away from the cone axis) and are not associated with an ovule-supporting structure (epimatium). Pollen in these two genera must land directly on the pollination drop in the way usual for gymnosperms, as observed in Phyllocladus. In all other genera, the ovule is inverted (i.e., the micropyle is directed toward the cone axis) and supported by a specialized ovulesupporting structure (epimatium). In Saxegothaea there is no pollination drop and gametes are delivered to the ovule by pollen tube growth. Pollination drops were observed in seven of the remaining genera. In these genera the drop extends over the adjacent bract surface or cone axis and can retain pollen that has arrived prior to drop secretion ("pollen scavenging"). The pollen floats upward into the micropylar cavity. The configuration of the cone in other genera in which a pollination drop has not yet been observed directly suggests that pollen scavenging is general within the family and may increase pollination efficiency by extending pollination in space and time. Increased pollination efficiency may relate to the reduction of ovule number in each cone, often to one in many genera, a derived condition. A biological perspective suggests that animal dispersal of large seeds may be the ultimate adaptive driving force that has generated the need for greater pollination efficiency.

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