Our Adventure 2001


The Pollen Prof

Click images to enlarge

In 1999, we became very interested in the possibility of a cross between Victoria and Euryale. See "Can It Happen?" We have since concluded that, at least in our conditions, the cross doesn't work but looking at pollen and wondering about it has led us to a new friendship.

Nymphaea pollen is single celled like most pollens. Victoria is uniquely tetrad. (See "Scope Stuff") One day when looking at Euryale pollen we found both single cells and tetrads. We sent the pictures to Dr. Ed Schneider, who explained that this was not impossible, that pollens begin as tetrads and separate very quickly (except Victoria). He also suggested that Dr. Jeffrey Osborn, a specialist in pollen, might be interested in what we were seeing.

Jeff was interested! The second time we found tetrads in the Euryale pollen, we preserved it in alcohol and sent it to him in a film canister. The canister was crushed in shipment and our sample irretrievable. At about that time, the plant's bloom rhythm changed and we were no longer able to predict when the pollen would dehisce.

It took an extra year for a proposed visit from Jeff, for the purpose of collecting Victoria and Euryale pollen, to happen. Labor Day Weekend 2001, he and two students, Julie Strandquist and Patrick Hudson, all from Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri, arrived. We couldn't help but laugh that this had to be the cushiest field expedition ever.

Our only Euryale was almost dead so collecting pollen from it was unsuccessful. We harvested many samples of dehiscing Victoria pollen but Jeff's real interest was in collecting samples as the pollen developed within buds. We agreed to sacrifice to science all the buds that we could remove without damaging our biggest 'Longwood Hybrid'. The anthers were placed in vials of fixative for return to Jeff's lab. There they would be examined more closely, some of them suspended in plastic, sliced thinly and looked at with electron microscopes.


'Longwood Hybrid' buds

It became evident that being able to look at even younger buds would be really desirable so we dug up a young and not especially vigorous cruziana. Cruziana is notorious for showing and then aborting buds so the image below is somewhat deceptive - buds 2 and 3 have already aborted. Buds 1, 4 and 5 are the ones actually developing.



Bud 1

Bud 4

Bud 5

Back at Truman State, Jeff and his students are studying pollen development in Victoria and other members of the order Nymphaeales (the water lilies) for several reasons. Water lilies are widely regarded to be primitive among flowering plants. Although studies of pollen structure and
development provide important evolutionary characters, very little is known about these in Victoria and in other water lilies. Therefore, new data about pollen formation in water lilies will provide a better
understanding about this important biological process in ancient flowering plants overall.

A month after Jeff was here, we had a small amazonica in decline so we dug it up. Jeff had left us some vials, fixative and detailed instructions for preparing the buds to send him in this event. We took the opportunity to dissect the little crown very slowly for photos and found it fascinating as always but had two bonuses from it. The first was actually following the leaf stems youngest to oldest, tracing the rotating triangle of growth from stem to stem. The second was a really beautiful example of new roots emerging from the base of stem, a little bud next to them. More images are in a gallery here.

Profile - Dr. Jeff Osborn

2001 A Banner Year! | Roots | The Cruziana Clock | The Pollen Prof
Seeds of the Century | Dissection of V. amazonica

Our Adventure Overview | 1998 The Adventure Begins
1999 The Adventure Continues | 2000 A Very Bad Year | 2001 A Banner Year
2002 An Even Better Year | 2003 We Like It Like This | 2004 Trust
2005 Recovery | 2006 Normal? | 2007 Weird | 2008 Year of the Hare
2009 Year of the (White) Tortoise

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