- Research article
- Open Access
Factors affecting quantity of pollen dispersal of spray cut chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium)
© Wang et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2014
- Received: 27 May 2013
- Accepted: 2 January 2014
- Published: 6 January 2014
Spray cut chrysanthemum is a vital flower with high ornamental value and popularity in the world. However, the excessive quantity of pollen dispersal of most spray cut chrysanthemum is an adverse factor during its flowering stage, and can significantly reduce its ornamental value and quickly shorten its vase life. More seriously, excessive pollen grains in the air are usually harmful to people, especially for those with pollen allergies. Therefore, in order to obtain some valuable information for developing spray cut chrysanthemum with less-dispersed or non-dispersed pollen in the future breeding programs, we here investigated the factors affecting quantity of pollen dispersal of spray cut chrysanthemum with four cultivars, i.e. ‘Qx-097’, ‘Noa’, ‘Qx-115’, and ‘Kingfisher’, that have different quantity of pollen dispersal.
‘Qx-097’ with high quantity of pollen dispersal has 819 pollen grains per anther, 196.4 disk florets per inflorescence and over 800,000 pollen grains per inflorescence. The corresponding data for ‘Noa’ with low quantity of pollen dispersal are 406, 175.4 and over 350,000, respectively; and 219, 144.2 and nearly 160,000 for ‘Qx-115’ without pollen dispersal, respectively. ‘Kingfisher’ without pollen dispersal has 202.8 disk florets per inflorescence, but its anther has no pollen grains. In addition, ‘Qx-097’ has a very high degree of anther cracking that nearly causes a complete dispersal of pollen grains from its anthers. ‘Noa’ has a moderate degree of anther cracking, and pollen grains in its anthers are not completely dispersed. However, the anthers of ‘Qx-115’ and ‘Kingfisher’ do not crack at all. Furthermore, microsporogenesis and pollen development are normal in ‘Qx-097’, whereas many microspores or pollen degenerate in ‘Noa’, most of them abort in ‘Qx-115’, and all of them degrade in ‘Kingfisher’.
These results suggest that quantity of pollen dispersal in spray cut chrysanthemum are mainly determined by pollen quantity per anther, and capacity of pollen dispersal. Abnormality during microsporogenesis and pollen development significantly affects pollen quantity per anther. Capacity of pollen dispersal is closely related to the degree of anther dehiscence. The entire degeneration of microspore or pollen, or the complete failure of anther dehiscence can cause the complete failure of pollen dispersal.
- Pollen Development
- Pollen Dispersal
- Tapetal Cell
- Vase Life
- Microspore Mother Cell
Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium (Ramat.) Kitamura) is among the ten most popular traditional flowers in China and one of the four most popular cut flowers in the world. Thus, this species occupies a vital position in production of flowers due to its high ornamental value [1, 2]. Spray cut chrysanthemum is a type of chrysanthemum important in chrysanthemum production. It has become the most important cut flower in China, and the second largest type of cut flowers in the United States and Europe, due to richness in floral colors and shapes, uniform flowering, and plentiful spray flowers as well [3, 4]. However, the ornamental value and vase life of spray cut chrysanthemum usually drop with the increase in quantity of pollen dispersal of middle tubular bisexual flowers at the flowering stage. More seriously, plenty of pollen grains produced by spray cut chrysanthemum at the flowering stage will float in the air and may cause severe allergic reactions that could be harmful to people, in particular those with pollen allergies [5–7]. Therefore, it is very necessary and urgent to solve the problem of pollen contamination during flowering of spray cut chrysanthemum.
It will be very useful to have some important information on factors influencing quantity of pollen dispersal of spray cut chrysanthemum before starting to develop new cultivars that disperse less pollen or do not disperse pollen at all through breeding methods. However, such information is not available by now. Therefore, we are the first time to carry out a systematic investigation on factors controlling quantity of pollen dispersal of spray cut chrysanthemum in this study using four cultivars with different quantity of pollen dispersal, i.e. ‘Qx-097’ with high quantity of pollen dispersal, ‘Noa’ with low quantity of pollen dispersal, ‘Qx-115’ and ‘Kingfisher’ without pollen dispersal. Our overall aim was to reveal the main causes influencing quantity of pollen dispersal of spray cut chrysanthemum, and the expected outputs will provide valuable information for effectively developing new cultivars with less-dispersed or non-dispersed pollen in the near future.
According to our previous observations on morphological characteristics of pollen dispersal, four spray cut chrysanthemum cultivars with different quantity of pollen dispersal were screened and grown in the Chrysanthemum Germplasm Resource Preserving Center, Nanjing Agricultural University, China (32°05’ N, 118°90’ E). They were ‘Qx-097’ with high quantity of pollen dispersal, ‘Noa’ with low quantity of pollen dispersal, ‘Qx-115’ and ‘Kingfisher’ without pollen dispersal, respectively (Figure 1).
Determination on pollen quantity per inflorescence
Because each chrysanthemum inflorescence usually consists of 20-30 peripheral ray florets which contain only a pistil and 100-200 small central disk florets with both pistil and stamen, thus only central disk florets can produce pollen and disperse pollen . Therefore, ten inflorescences at the full flowering stage of each cultivar were randomly sampled for determining the number of central disk florets per inflorescence. In addition, ten central disk florets were randomly selected for determining the number of anther per disk floret. Furthermore, 60 anthers just before dehiscence were randomly sampled from each cultivar for estimating the number of pollen per anther. The anthers were put in a 10 ml centrifuge tube, and then stored at 50°C for around 24 hours. Afterwards, 6 ml of 20% (NaPO3)6 solution (w/v) was added into the centrifuge tube, and then the tube was shaken and inverted completely to produce pollen suspension. 2 μl of pollen suspension was added on a hemocytometer and pollen amount was counted under an Olympus BX41 microscope. Pollen quantity per anther was calculated with the formula [pollen quantity per anther (pollen grains/anther) = the number of pollen grains in 2 μl suspension × 3000/60]. Each experiment was repeated six times. Pollen quantity per inflorescence was calculated according to pollen quantity per anther, number of anthers per disk floret, and number of disk florets per inflorescence, i.e. pollen quantity per inflorescence = pollen quantity per anther × number of anthers per disk floret × number of disk florets per inflorescence.
Determination on pollen dispersal
At the full flowering stage of each cultivar, the images of pollen on stigmas were captured for the purpose of assessing morphological characteristics of pollen dispersal. In addition, the anthers after their pollen dispersal were collected for determining the level of anther cracking and the amount of pollen left per anther by the above-mentioned method. Furthermore, some of the anthers after their pollen dispersal were subject to the following microscopy technology.
Microsporogenesis and pollen development
Microsporogenesis and pollen development of the four cultivars were examined according to the paraffin section method of [11, 12] with some modifications. Flower buds and disk florets of each cultivar at different development stages were collected, and immediately immersed in FAA solution (formalin 5 ml, acetic acid 5 ml, alcohol 70% 90 ml) until use. The samples were dehydrated through a graded series of ethanol solutions, and then embedded in paraffin wax. Sections were cut to a thickness of 8 μm and stained with Heidenhain’s hematoxylin. Then the sections were observed and imaged under an Olympus BX41 microscope. Digital images were captured using an Axiocam MRC camera.
In addition, the anthers of ‘Qx-097’ and ‘Noa’ at different development stages were also subject to transmission electron microscopy (TEM) by [13, 14] with some modifications. Fresh anthers were stripped from central disk florets and immediately immersed in 2.5% (v/v) glutaraldehyde (in 0.1 mol/L phosphate buffer, pH 7.2), gently expelled using a syringe, and then stored at 4°C until use. Then the anthers were washed five times with the same phosphate buffer and post-fixed in 1.5% osmium tetroxide for 5 h. Afterwards, they were treated through a graded series of PHEM buffer (60 mmol/L pipes; 25 mmol/L Hepes; 10 mmol/L EGTA; 2 mmol/L MgCl2; pH 7. 0) and ethanol solutions, and then embedded in Epon 812. Sections were cut to a thickness of 80 nm using an LKB-V ultra-microtome (Bromma, Sweden) and stained with uranyl acetate and lead citrate. The sections then were observed and imaged under a transmission electron microscope (Hitachi H-7650) at 80 kV.
The data were subjected to a one-way analysis of variance using the SPSS software 16.0 (SPSS Inc, Chicago, IL, USA), and the means were compared using the Bonferroni t-test with alpha = 0.05.
Pollen quantity per inflorescence
Inflorescence traits of four spray cut chrysanthemum cultivars
Disk florets per inflorescence
Anthers per floret
Pollen quantity per anther
Pollen quantity per inflorescence
Apparent pollen quantity
Anther dehiscence degree
Percentage of pollen dispersal (%)
196.4 ± 9.0ab
819 ± 30a
175.4 ± 2.9b
406 ± 31b
144.2 ± 7.0c
219 ± 19c
202.8 ± 9.3a
No pollen in anther
Pollen dispersal per inflorescence
The apparent pollen quantity is a morphological parameter that grossly indicates the amount of pollen grains gathering on stigmas during anther dehiscence of spray cut chrysanthemum. In other words, this parameter is an intuitive reflection of quantity of pollen dispersal, or can be regarded as a criterion assessing the capacity of chrysanthemum pollen dispersal. For example, mass of pollen grains on stigmas of ‘Qx-097’ during anther dehiscence were clearly visible and large in volume (Figure 1A-D), so ‘Qx-097’ is a cultivar with high quantity of pollen dispersal. There are also mass of pollen grains on stigmas of ‘Noa’ during anther dehiscence, but pollen mass is much smaller in volume compared with that of ‘Qx-097’ (Figure 1E-H). Thus, ‘Noa’ is considered as a chrysanthemum cultivar with low quantity of pollen dispersal. ‘Qx-115’ does not disperse pollen during anther dehiscence and no any pollen grains can be observed on its stigmas (Figure 1I-L). Therefore, ‘Qx-115’ is regarded as a cultivar without pollen dispersal, although it has 219 pollen per anther and nearly 160,000 per inflorescence (Table 1). ‘Kingfisher’ does not dispersal pollen at all during anther dehiscence (Figure 1M-P), as its anther or inflorescence does not contain any pollen (Table 1), thus it is a cultivar with non-dispersed pollen.
Microsporogenesis and pollen development of ‘Qx-097’
Because ‘Qx-097’ is a cultivar with high quantity of pollen dispersal, thus the detailed reproductive processes of microsporogenesis and pollen development were presented here, which will provide some useful information for revealing the reason of its high quantity of pollen dispersal from reproductive aspect.
Microsporogenesis and pollen development of ‘Noa’, ‘Qx-115’ and ‘Kingfisher’
Comparisons of microsporogenesis, pollen development and pollen dispersal among four spray cut chrysanthemum cultivars
Major events in pollen development and pollen dispersal of ‘Qx-097’
The differences of ‘Noa’, ‘Qx-115’ and ‘Kingfisher’ compared with ‘Qx-097’
Microsporocyte formation stage
Tissue differentiation, microspore mother cells in irregular shape, tightly abutting, relatively large nuclei, formation of 4 complete anther walls.
Microsporocyte meiosis stage
Oval-shaped microspore mother cells, meiosis, microspores in tetrahedral tetrads, microspore mother cells and tetrads surrounded by callose and abundant cytoplasm contains mitochondria, plastids, endoplasmic reticulum, small vacuoles, vacuolation of cytoplasm of endothecium layer and epidermal layer cells, condensed cytoplasm of tapetal layer cells.
‘Kingfisher: asymmetrical dyad and tetrad formed by inequality meiosis, degradation and vacuolization of microspore cytoplasm in tetrad, abnormal degradation and microspores not released from tetrads.
Early microspore stage
Free microspores released from tetrads, no vacuoles, no germ pores, thin cell wall, uniform and dense cytoplasm, nuclei in center of cells. vacuolation of cytoplasm of tapetal layer with discohesive cells increase, middle layer in further degradation;
‘Kingfisher’: nothing in pollen sacs, pollen abortion completely;
‘Noa’: individual microspore abortion.
Middle microspore stage
Microspore enlargement, germ pores formation, cells wall thickenings formed, spiked protuberances formed and inner wall formed, vacuoles increase and enlargement, degradation of microspore cytoplasm, off-centre of nuclei, tapetal layer cells radial thinning.
‘Qx-115’: large number of microspore abortion, cells broken, degradation of cytoplasm;
‘Noa’: individual microspore abortion;
‘Kingfisher’: nothing in pollen sacs.
Late microspore stage
Cell walls thickened and cells enlargement continues, large central vacuole formation, nuclei and cytoplasm at opposite side of germ pores against outer walls, tapetal layer cells in hill-shaped and further degradation, middle layer almost disappeared.
‘Qx-115’: microspore abortion continues, few complete pollen grains in the late microspore stage;
‘Noa’: individual microspore abortion;
‘Kingfisher’: nothing in pollen sacs.
Early bicellular pollen stage
Inequality mitosis of microspore, vegetative cell and generative cell formation, remains of tapetal layer, endothecium layer cells enlargement.
Anthers start shriveling of ‘Qx-115’ and ‘Kingfisher’.
Late bicellular pollen stage
Bicellular pollen stage enlargement, move of generative cell to vegetative cell, starch accumulation, ‘U’ shaped thickened of endothecium layer cell walls.
Anthers shriveled of ‘Qx-115’ and ‘Kingfisher’.
Mature pollen stage
The contents like starch fill the whole cytoplasm, generative cell dividing, sperm cells and mature pollen formation, non observation of 3-nuclei structure.
Anthers shriveled of ‘Qx-115’ and ‘Kingfisher’.
Anther cracking and pollen dispersing stage
Anther cracking, pollen dispersing, very high degree of anther cracking, pollen dispersing completely.
‘Noa’: the degree of anther cracking inferior to ‘Qx-097’, pollen residue remains after pollen dispersing;
‘Qx-115’: anther non-cracking, non-dispersal of pollen.
Stamen anatomy during anther dehiscence of ‘Qx-097’, ‘Noa’, and ‘Qx-115’
Pollen is produced by plant stamen, the male reproductive organ of flower, and is very important for sexual reproduction of flowering plants [15, 16]. However, pollen is often unwelcome in flower production, as the ornamental value of many flowers including chrysanthemum usually quickly decrease with the increase in quantity of pollen dispersal [17, 18]. In addition, pollen can also create various allergic reactions in people [5, 6, 19, 20]. In this study, four spray cut chrysanthemum cultivars are very different in the quantities of pollen dispersal. ‘Qx-115’ and ‘Kingfisher’ are cultivars with non-dispersing of pollen, ‘Qx-097’ is the cultivar with high quantities of pollen dispersal, and ‘Noa’ is the cultivar with less quantities of pollen dispersal (Figure 1, Table 1). The results presented here indicate that the significant differences in the quantities of pollen dispersal among the four chrysanthemum cultivars are largely due to two factors, pollen quantity per inflorescence and the capacity of pollen dispersal. In other words, the quantity of pollen dispersal is usually positively proportional to pollen quantity per inflorescence and the capacity of pollen dispersal.
Pollen quantity per inflorescence of spray cut chrysanthemum is jointly determined by pollen quantity per anther and the number of disk florets per inflorescence, but pollen quantity per anther is the main factor. Because the number of disk florets per inflorescence usually ranges from 100 to 200, whereas pollen quantity per anther has a wider range, usually 0-1000 (Table 1). There are many factors affecting pollen quantity per anther. For example, pollen quantity in the anther is influenced by the size of pollen sacs, the number of microspores mother cells, climate and nutrient conditions, and level of cultivation and management [15, 21, 22]. Liu et al.  and Tan et al.  thought that pollen quantity in anthers also depends on whether anthers develop normally. In the present study, we compared microsporogenesis and pollen development of the four cultivars with different quantities of pollen dispersal, and found that abnormalities often occurred during microsporogenesis and pollen development of ‘Kingfisher’, ‘Qx-115’, and ‘Noa’. For instance, nearly all the microspores mother cells degraded at the microsporocyte meiosis stage and asymmetrical dyad and tetrad in ‘Kingfisher’, which is the main reason why anther of this cultivar does not contain any pollen. However, abnormal phenomena were seldom observed in ‘Qx-097’ with lots of pollen grains in anther. Therefore, the reason for difference in pollen quantity per anther of the four chrysanthemum cultivars is mainly attributed to different levels of abnormalities occurring during microsporogenesis and pollen development. The possible reason for different levels of abnormalities is that long-term vegetative propagation of chrysanthemum, mainly cutting, has resulted in chromosome structure variation and abnormal meiosis. Similar phenomena were also observed in lily [25, 26].
The capacity of pollen dispersal is another important factor influencing quantity of pollen dispersal in chrysanthemum, and is closely related to the speed and degree of anther dehiscence. The speed of anther dehiscence is the degree of anther dehiscence per unit time. We hypothesized that the higher the degree of anther dehiscence is, the stronger its capacity of pollen dispersal is. This hypothesis is confirmed by our results (Table 1). For example, ‘Qx-097’ has the highest degree of anther dehiscence among the four cultivars, and its pollen grains in anther disperse completely. ‘Qx-115’ does not disperse any pollen because its anthers do not crack at all, although its anther contains lots of pollen. The reason for anther abnormal cracking in ‘Qx-115’ may be the anther atrophy caused by pollen abortion and the anther walls of this cultivar has no special structure suitable for anther dehiscence. For ‘Qx-097’ and ‘Noa’, the cell walls in endothecium layer are ‘U’ shaped and thickened that may facilitate anther dehiscence, although the difference in degree of anther dehiscence between the two cultivars remains to be further investigated.
Anther dehiscence was once considered a simple process of tissue desiccation [27, 28]. However, many studies showed that anther dehiscence is a complex process which is regulated by different mechanisms in different species [29–33]. For example, water channel protein, carbohydrate and K+ have been reported to be implicated in anther dehiscence by regulating cell osmatic potential which gave rise to dehydration of the tissue of anthers [34–36]. In addition, anther dehiscence was also regulated by hormones including jasmonic acid [37, 38], auxin  and ethylene [39, 40]. The main regulation model is that when anther tissue is under the regulation of hormones such as jasmonic acid etc., pollen grains and septum dehydrate at the right moment, and then K+ and secondary metabolites such as carbohydrate enter pollen grains and cause their rapid swell to produce the pressure on stomium under the help of water channel protein. Meanwhile, hormones such as ethylene promote the rupture of stomium cells by enzymatic hydrolysis to crack the anthers at last [29, 31, 33, 41]. For instance, Sanders et al. and Nagpal et al. found that anthers of Arabidopsis mutant with defection in anther dehiscence could open after treatment with exogenous jasmonic acid and auxin. However, our results (data not shown) indicated that exogenous methyl jasmonate treatment couldn’t accelerate anther dehiscence of ‘Noa’ with incomplete dehiscent anthers and ‘Qx-115’ with non-dehiscent anthers, demonstrating jasmonic acid is possibly not a main factor affecting anther cracking in chrysanthemum. Moreover, external environment factors such as high temperature sometimes can also decrease the degree of anther dehiscence [44, 45].
In conclusion, we here performed a systematic study to investigate factors influencing quantity of pollen dispersal of four spray cut chrysanthemum cultivars with different quantity of pollen dispersal. Three findings are worth noting. Firstly, quantity of pollen dispersal in spray cut chrysanthemum are largely determined by pollen quantity per anther, and capacity of pollen dispersal. Secondly, significant differences in pollen quantity per anther among the four chrysanthemum cultivars are mainly attributable to significant differences in abnormalities occurring during microsporogenesis and pollen development. Thirdly, capacity of pollen dispersal is closely related to the degree of anther dehiscence. These important findings will provide valuable information for developing flower cultivars with less or no pollen dispersal in future breeding projects of chrysanthemum, even other crops, although the underlying mechanisms for pollen abortion and abnormal cracking of anthers remain to be further investigated.
We are very grateful to the two anonymous reviewers assigned by the BMC Plant Biology journal for carefully reviewing our manuscript and putting forward many valuable suggestions and comments. We also thank Professor Xi-Jin Mu in Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences for his valuable discussions at early stages of these experiments. This study was supported by the Programs for New Century Excellent Talents in Universities, Ministry of Education of China (NCET-11-0669), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31171983), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (KYZ201308, KYZ201147), the Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province (BK2010447), and Youth Science and Technology Innovation Fund (KJ2011009).
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