Brief Communication | Published:

Pollination

Self-fertilization strategy in an orchid

Nature volume 441, pages 945946 (22 June 2006) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Mating in flowering plants normally relies on animals, wind, gravity or secretion to convey pollen grains from the male (anther) to the female (stigma) organ1,2. Here we describe a new type of self-pollination mechanism in the tree-living orchid Holcoglossum amesianum, in which the bisexual flower turns its anther against gravity through 360° in order to insert pollen into its own stigma cavity — without the aid of any pollinating agent or medium. This mode of self-pollination, which occurs under windless, drought conditions when insects are scarce, adds to the variety of mechanisms that have evolved in angiosperms3,4 to ensure their reproductive success1,5.

An orchid that flowers in harsh conditions pollinates itself unassisted by any of the usual agents.

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Author information

Affiliations

  1. *The Center for Biotechnology and BioMedicine, Graduate School at Shenzhen, Tsinghua University, Shenzhen 518055, China

    • Ke-Wei Liu
    •  & LaiQiang Huang
  2. †School of Life Sciences, University of Science & Technology of China, Hefei 230027, China

    • Ke-Wei Liu
  3. ‡The National Orchid Conservation Center, Shenzhen 518114, China

    • Zhong-Jian Liu
    • , Li-Qiang Li
    • , Li-Jun Chen
    •  & Guang-Da Tang
  4. §College of Forestry, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou 510642, China

    • Guang-Da Tang

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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to LaiQiang Huang.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/441945a

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