The role of specific secretions in the induction and development of sexual organs and in the determination of sexual affinity

  • John R. Raper
Part of the Handbuch der Pflanzenphysiologie / Encyclopedia of Plant Physiology book series (532, volume 18)


The probable role of specific chemical agents in the initiation and regulation of sexual processes was recognized by Sachs as early as 1880. The first demonstration of the actual occurrence of such specific agents in plants, however, was given by Burgeff, in 1924, for Mucor mucedo, a member of the common group of phycornycetous fungi, the “black bread molds”. Since that time, comparable evidence for specific sexual secretions has appeared for various fungi and algae. The precise manifestations for chemical control, however, vary widely in different groups, thereby reflecting directly or indirectly the diversity of basic sexual processes in the many phylogenetic groupings. Furthermore, in every case for which adequate information is available, the specific activities demonstrably attributable to sexual secretions contribute to one or more of several distinct functions requisite to the achievement of sexual union: the determination of sexual sign, the induction of sexual organs, the spatial orientation of sexual organs, the differentiation of gametangia and/or gametes, and finally, the fusion of differentiated sexual elements. The present chapter deals with those determinative, inductive, and coordinative activities of specific sexual secretions that have been described as operating prior to the copulatory union of gametangia or gametes. The regulatory role of specific secretions in the copulatory process per se are treated in Chapter III D. Sexual systems dependent upon external regulation by means of diffusible substances are known only among the lower plants, the fungi and algae; the present account is accordingly restricted to a consideration of these groups of primitive plants.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin · Heidelberg 1967

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  • John R. Raper

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