Did you know flowers are not easy to charm?

DYK_Pollen dating flowers

Production of fruits and many vegetables starts with male pollen finding their way to female flower parts of the same species. As there are so many different types of pollen out there, flowers have evolved elaborate mechanisms to ensure selection of only compatible pollen.

Just like VIP nightclubs, flowers carefully check pollens’ IDs on arrival. For cross-pollinated crops, pollen is rejected if it is too similar to the flower’s own pollen, or if there is too little in common (genetic incompatibility). Once deemed compatible, pollen is guided through additional checkpoints to the VIP room (the ovule, where fertilisation takes place). In this way, flowers choose the best match for effective reproduction and favourable genetic diversity in the next generation.

This microscopic dating process is impacted by weather conditions. Temperature and humidity can affect pollination, and consequently impact food supply. Research to better understand this process could help to sustain food production under climatic stress.


The Journey of the Pollen Tube: Food Security in Changing Climate | SciToons