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Pollination

Self-fertilization strategy in an orchid

Naturevolume 441pages945946 (2006) | Download Citation

Subjects

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

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.

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

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