Main Characteristics of Grass Pollen Grains

The pollen grains of the grass family are amazingly homogeneous morphology throughout. However, the identification at the genus and species level stays complicated. They emerged in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and surfaces.

The shape of pollen grain may vary in different species like spherical or winged, elliptical, bean-shaped, and sometimes filamentous.

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Grass pollen is divided into two types based on its size such as (i) wild grass type with the size ranges from 25- 35 microns, and (ii) cultivated grass type with size ranges from 35- 50 microns. The smallest pollen grain is about 6 microns in diameter. The typical color of the pollen grain is cream, white, yellow, and orange.

The texture of its cell wall varies from smooth to spike. Phenotypically, the main pollen character used to distinguish and identify the pollen grains is the aperture type.

Pollen grains are a microscopic part of plant flowers that contains the male gametes which are essential for the reproduction process. They differ in pollen wall dimensional, structural, and external characteristics depending on the plant species.

Most pollen grains of the grasses consist of three different parts:

1. Cytoplasm: It is a source of accommodating the sperm cells nucleus for fertilization is located in the central part, double-wall shows familiar differentiation into a thin inner intine layer constituted of cellulose or hemicelluloses and callose named endospore and a thick outer exine layer comprised of sporopollenin named exospore.

2. Sporopollenin: It is an assortment of biopolymers containing liquid and fatty substances called ‘pollen kit’. It guards the genetic materials in the pollen grains from desiccation, mechanical and chemical damage, and gives protection against ultraviolet rays of the sun. The variability in exospore’s shape and surface characteristics helps to differentiate the pollen grains in different species.

3. Fatty substance: The presence of waxes and proteins on the surface of the pollen grain helps to resist damp and interact with stigma. The inner layer is placed by cells themselves whereas, the outer layer is placed by the tapetum-a specialized layer of the nutritive cells in the anther. The tapetum is a predecessor and vital for the progress of pollen coat and pollen grains, respectively.

Sometimes the residues of tapetum can found in the cavities on the surface of the outer wall. The lower part of the outer wall consists of a foot layer and an intermediate layer of enlarged bacula or columella on the upper side called the tectum.

The other embellishments may occur in the form of points or spikes above the tectum. Nucleus present within the sperm cells of the vegetative cell that controls the initial growth and metabolism of the pollen tube after germination.

The ultimate function of the pollen is transferring the male gametes from the anther of a flower either to the stigma of another flower (cross-pollination) or the same flower (self-pollination).

Apertures Types in Grass Pollen Grain:
Pollen aperture is the pattern formed in the pollen wall due to a reduction in the area of the exine. The main attribute of apertural pollen grains with the elastic exine layer helps to adapt easily in the humid environment by stretching and increasing their size due to the permeation of water. Based on aperture types, pollen grains of most families are clustered into three distinct types include porate (circular pores), colpate (elongated furrows, colpi), and corporate (both pore and colpus). Typically in grass pollen, the apertures are spherical, monoporate, or disparate with annulus and operculum.

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