Tracking Pollen Fates in Orchid Populations

  • Steven D. Johnson
  • Lawrence D. Harder
Part of the Springer Protocols Handbooks book series (SPH)


Pollination in most plants is mediated by complex interactions with animal pollinators. The fates of pollen, such as the rates of self-pollination and export to conspecific stigmas, can strongly influence components of reproductive success such as seed production and male siring success. Tracking pollen fates is therefore one of the key aims in plant reproductive biology. This chapter outlines the two main methods (pollen staining and microtagging) that have been developed to track pollen fates in orchids and discusses their advantages and disadvantages. We show that these tracking methods can be used to quantify the efficiency of pollen transfer in orchid populations, the rates of self-pollination and spatial patterns of pollen export. Finally, we outline some of the insights into orchid reproductive biology that have been revealed using these tracking methods.

Key words

Geitonogamy Gene flow Microtag Orchid Orchidaceae Paternity analysis Pollen Pollination Self-pollination 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Life SciencesUniversity of KwaZulu-NatalScottsvilleSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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