Quantifying the Influence of Pollen Aging on the Adhesive Properties of Hypochaeris radicata Pollen
Although pollination is one of the most crucial biological processes that ensures plant reproduction, its mechanisms are poorly understood. Especially in insect-mediated pollination, a pollen undergoes several attachment and detachment cycles when being transferred from anther to insect and from insect to stigma. The influence of the properties of pollen, insect and floral surfaces on the adhesion forces that mediate pollen transfer have been poorly studied. Here, we investigate the adhesive properties of Hypochaeris radicata pollen and their dependence on pollen aging by quantifying the pull-off forces from glass slides using centrifugation and atomic force microscopy. We found that the properties of the pollenkitt-the viscous, lipid liquid on the surface of most pollen grains-influences the forces necessary to detach a pollen from hydrophilic surfaces. Our results show that aged H. radicata pollen form weaker adhesions to hydrophilic glass than fresh ones. On the other hand, when a pollen grain ages in contact with glass, the adhesion between the two surfaces increases over time. This study shows for the first time the pollen aging effect on the pollination mechanism.