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Plant Systematics and Evolution

, Volume 222, Issue 1–4, pp 167–185 | Cite as

Abiotic pollen and pollination: Ecological, functional, and evolutionary perspectives

  • J. D. Ackerman
Article

Abstract

The transport and capture of pollen in ~20% of all angiosperm families occurs in air and water. In other words, pollination is abiotic and occurs via the fluid media, not an animal vector. Whereas some early concepts considered abiotic pollination to be largely a stochastic phenomenon, there is sufficient evidence to indicate that wind pollination (i.e. anemophily) and water pollination (i.e. hydrophily) have deterministic features and are sophisticated fluid dynamic solutions to the problem of pollen release, dispersal, and capture.

An abiotic pollination syndrome is defined in which there is spatial or temporal separation of carpellate and staminate flowers, which are drab, a reduction in perianth parts, stigmas and anthers are exposed to the fluid, and typically unclumped pollen may be produced in large amounts. Separate pollination syndromes are defined for anemophilous (i.e. wind-pollinated), ephydrophilous (i.e. surface-pollinated), and hydrophilous (i.e. submarine-pollinated) plants. Distinctions are based on habitat and physical conditions for pollination, pollen size, shape, and ultrastructure, morphology and ultrastructure of stigmas, and outcrossing rates. For example, anemophilous pollen are spherical and small, ephydrophilous pollen are spherical or reniform and large, while hydrophilous pollen are filiform (i.e. filamentous) or functionally filiform. The pollination mechanisms and mechanics associated with these syndromes reveals a strong evolutionary relationship between plant morphology and fluid dynamics.

Key words

Anemophily hydrophily wind pollination water pollination biomechanics fluid dynamics ephydrophily hyphydrophily dicliny dichogamy autogamy 

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© Springer-Verlag 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. D. Ackerman
    • 1
  1. 1.Physical Ecology LaboratoryUniversity of Northern British ColumbiaPrince GeorgeCanada

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