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Developmental origins of structural diversity in pollen walls of Compositae

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Abstract

Compositae exhibit some of the most complex and diverse pollen grains in flowering plants. This paper reviews the evolutionary and developmental origins of this diversity in pollen structure using recent models based on the behaviour of colloids and formation of micelles in the differentiating microspore glycocalyx and primexine. The developmental model is consistent with observations of structures recovered by pollen wall dissolution. Pollen wall diversity in Compositae is inferred to result from small changes in the glycocalyx, for example ionic concentration, which trigger the self-assembly of highly diverse structures. Whilst the fine details of exine substructure are, therefore, not under direct genetic control, it is likely that genes establish differences in the glycocalyx which define the conditions for self-assembly. Because the processes described here for Compositae can account for some of the most complex exine structures known, it is likely that they also operate in pollen walls with much simpler organisation.

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Acknowledgments

The authors are grateful to Donald Claugher and Susan H. Barnes for helping to shape our ideas about pollen development and exine ontogeny. This paper was first conceived as part of a Festschrift in honour of Gerhard Wagenitz; we thank the organisers and Professor Wagenitz himself for their inspiration.

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Correspondence to Stephen Blackmore.

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This paper is dedicated to the memory of Donald Claugher.

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Blackmore, S., Wortley, A.H., Skvarla, J.J. et al. Developmental origins of structural diversity in pollen walls of Compositae. Plant Syst Evol 284, 17–32 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00606-009-0232-2

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