Flavonols: Effects on Fertility and Fecundity
- Loverine P. Taylor
Flavonols are required for successful fertilization in maize (Zea mays L.) and petunia (Petunia × hybrida Vilm.). Pollen lacking flavonols is unable to produce a functional pollen tube, but this defect can be reversed and pollen function “rescued” by the timely application of kaempferol, a flavonol aglycone. Biochemical complementation of mature petunia pollen is achieved (i) at pollination by wild-type stigma exudate, (ii) by exogenous application of kaempferol to the stigma or pollen at pollination, and (iii) by supplementing a pollen suspension in germination medium with flavonol aglycones. The last method forms the basis of a sensitive in vitro bioassay used to identify compounds that induce pollen germination. It also provides a model system for a focused and systematic investigation of flavonol-stimulated pollen germination. In addition to increased understanding of basic flavonol biology in reproductive organs, an unexpected bonus was the finding that plant fecundity can be enhanced by manipulating the levels of flavonol aglycones (kaempferol) in stigmas.
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