Plant Systematics and Evolution

, Volume 305, Issue 2, pp 151–168 | Cite as

Pollen morphology in natural diploid–polyploid hybridogeneous complex of the genus Onosma (Boraginaceae–Lithospermeae)

  • V. KolarčikEmail author
  • D. Vašková
  • M. Mirková
  • P. Mártonfi
Original Article


The size and shape of the pollen grains are studied in a hybridogeneous complex of the genus Onosma. This plant system encompasses the hybrid taxa O. helvetica and O. pseudoarenaria with bimodal karyotypes that comprise large and small chromosomes and their ancestral lineages, paternal O. fastigiata and Asterotricha taxa belonging to a maternal lineage. The pollen grains are investigated under light microscopy, and the size and shape parameters are retrieved based on image analysis of the pollen grain outlines. The shape of the pollen grain is analyzed by applying elliptic Fourier transform coupled with principal component analysis. Extensive size and shape variations of the pollen grain within cytotypes as well as differences between cytotypes are recorded. The cytotypes are mostly differentiated due to the size parameters of the pollen grain that are correlated with ploidy level and the proportion of large and small chromosomes. Despite significant differences being observed between cytotypes, the precise identification of the ploidy level of an individual based on the pollen size and shape analysis is not possible in most of the cases, mostly due to extensive intracytotype variation. Allometric analyses exhibit a different relation between the pollen shape and size in case of cytotypes. The ratio of polar to equatorial axes length is, generally, a good approximation of the pollen shape. However, the study clearly exhibits that the relation between pollen shape and the ratio of polar to equatorial axes length is different for cytotypes, which justifies the application of outline analysis in palynological studies.


Elliptic Fourier transform Heteropolar pollen grain Outline analysis Ploidy level Pollen size 



We are grateful to all colleagues, who are listed in Table 1 and helped us to collect plant material and to J. Doležel, who provided seed material of FCM reference standard. We would like to thank Enago ( for English language editing. The Ministry of Environment of the Slovak Republic generously provided us with exception from Nature Conservation of Ministry of Environment of the Slovak Republic No. 1210/481/05-5.1 and allowed us to collect plant material in Slovakia.


This study was funded by the Grant Agency for Science, Bratislava (VEGA, No. 1/0512/15).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and animal rights

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

606_2018_1559_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (259 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 529 kb)
606_2018_1559_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (263 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 529 kb)
606_2018_1559_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (266 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 529 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • V. Kolarčik
    • 1
    Email author
  • D. Vašková
    • 1
  • M. Mirková
    • 1
  • P. Mártonfi
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Biology and Ecology, Faculty of ScienceP. J. Šafárik UniversityKosiceSlovak Republic

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