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Monday, April 27, 2009

Pollen is the devil

Pollen is a fine to coarse powder consisting of microgametophytes (pollen grains), which produce the male gametes (sperm cells) of seed plants. A hard coat covering the pollen grain protects the sperm cells during the process of their movement between the stamens of the flower to the pistil of the next flower.
Each pollen grain contains vegetative (non-reproductive) cells (only a single cell in most flowering plants but several in other seed plants) and a generative (reproductive) cell containing two nuclei: a tube nucleus (that produces the pollen tube) and a generative nucleus (that divides to form the two sperm cells). The group of cells is surrounded by a cellulose-rich cell wall called the intine, and a resistant outer wall composed largely of sporopollenin called the exine.
Pollen is produced in the microsporangium (contained in the
anther of an angiosperm flower, male cone of a coniferous plant, or male cone of other seed plants). Pollen grains come in a wide variety of shapes (most often spherical), sizes, and surface markings characteristic of the species (see Electron micrograph at top right). Pollen grains of pines, firs, and spruces are winged. The smallest pollen grain, that of the Forget-me-not (Myosotis spp.), is around 6 µm (0.006 mm) in diameter. Wind-borne pollen grains can be as large as about 90-100 µm.[1] The study of pollen is called palynology and is highly useful in paleoecology, paleontology, archeology, and forensics.
In angiosperms, during flower development the anther is composed of a mass of cells that appear undifferentiated, except for a partially differentiated dermis. As the flower develops, four groups of sporogenous cells form with in the anther, the fertile sporogenous cells are surrounded by layers of sterile cells that grow into the wall of the pollen sac, some of the cells grow into nutritive cells that supply nutrition for the microspores that form by meiotic division from the sporogenous cells. Four haploid microspores are produced from each diploid sporogenous cell called a microsporocyte, after meiotic division. After the formation of the four microspores, which are contained by callose walls, the development of the pollen grain walls begins. The callose wall is broken down by an enzyme called callase and the freed pollen grains grow in size and develop their characteristic shape and form a resistant outer wall called the exine and an inner wall called the intine. The exine is what is preserved in the fossil record.
I hate pollen. worse part is the pollen count is wicked high for the next week. damn it.