Department of Horticultural Sciences, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, Cornell University, Geneva, NY 14456-0462
Summary Flowers of cultivated buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum Moench) often receive natural pollen loads of fewer than 10 pollen grains. The cultivated varieties also have high genetic variability. These observations raise the question of whether seed production in buckwheat is often limited by pollen delivery, and whether small increases in pollen load could result in gametophytic selection through pollen grain competition. In greenhouse-grown buckwheat plants, embryo sac penetration by pollen tubes was universal with 10 or more pollen grains. However, seed production increased with pollen load up to 30 grains per flower. Larger pollen loads, which intensify selection among gametophytes, resulted in more vigorous progeny. Seedlings produced from high pollen load (15-20 pollen grains) were larger (40% by weight) than those from low pollen load (5 pollen grains). These results are evidence that pollen grain competition can occur in buckwheat with benefits for progeny performance.
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