Morphological and cytological development and starch accumulation in hermaphrodite and staminate flowers of olive (Olea europaea L.)
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- Reale, L., Sgromo, C., Ederli, L. et al. Sex Plant Reprod (2009) 22: 109. doi:10.1007/s00497-009-0096-1
In olive (Olea europaea L.), the formation of functionally staminate flowers rather than fully functional hermaphrodites is one of the major factors limiting fruit set, as flowers with aborted pistils are incapable of producing fruit. Studies conducted on various angiosperm species have shown a correlation between flower abortion and starch content. Thus, it is important to know if starch content plays a role in regulating pistil development in olive and if so, what mechanism regulates starch distribution. Cyto-histological observations of staminate and hermaphrodite olive flowers show that pistil development in staminate flowers is interrupted after the differentiation of the megaspore mother cell. At that stage, starch grains were only detected in the ovary, style and stigma of the hermaphrodite flowers. No starch was observed in the pistils of the staminate flowers. This finding suggests a tight correlation between starch content and pistil development. The secondary origin of starch within the flower is indicated by low chlorophyll content in the gynoecium, undetectable Rubisco activity in the pistils of these two kinds of flowers and by the ultrastructure of the plastids observed by transmission electron microscope analysis. The plastids have few thylakoid membranes and grana and in the staminate flowers appeared very similar to proplastids. Considering differences in starch content between staminate and hermaphrodite flowers and the secondary origin of the starch, differences in pistil development in the staminate and hermaphrodite flowers could be related to differences in the sink strength of these two types of flowers.