Pre-fertilization: structures and events The hormonal and structural changes in plant lead to the differentiation and development of floral primordium. The structures and events involved in pre- fertilization are given below
Male Reproductive part – Androecium
Androecium is made up of stamens. Each stamen possesses an anther and a filament. Anther bears pollen grains which represent the male gametophyte.
Development of anther:
A very young anther develops as a homogenous mass of cells surrounded by an epidermis. During its development, the anther assumes a four- lobed structure. In each lobe, a row or a few rows of hypodermal cells becomes enlarged with conspicuous nuclei. This functions as archesporium. The archesporial cells divide by periclinal divisions to form primary parietal cells towards the epidermis and primary sporogenous cells towards the inner side of the anther. The primary parietal cells undergo a series of periclinal and anticlinal division and form 2-5 layers of anther walls composed of endothecium, middle layers and tapetum, from periphery to centre.
The stages involved in the formation of haploid microspores from diploid microspore mother cell through meiosis is called Microsporogenesis. The primary sporogeneous cells directly, or may undergo a few mitotic divisions to form sporogenous tissue. The last generation of sporogenous tissue functions as microspore mother cells. Each microspore mother cell divides meiotically to form a tetrad of four haploid microspores (microspore tetrad). Microspores soon separate from one another and remain free in the anther locule and develop into pollen grains. The stages in the development of microsporangia is given in Figure 1.4.
In some plants, all the microspores in a microsporangium remain held together called pollinium. Example: Calotropis. Pollinia are attached to a clamp or clip like sticky structure called corpusculum. The filamentous or thread like part arising from each pollinium is called retinaculum. The whole structure looks like inverted letter ‘Y’ and is called translator T.S. of Mature anther Transverse section of mature anther reveals the presence of anther cavity surrounded by an anther wall. It is bilobed, each lobe having 2 theca (dithecous). A typical anther is tetrasporangiate.
1. Anther wall
The mature anther wall consists of the following layers a. Epidermis b. Endothecium c. Middle layers d. Tapetum. a. Epidermis: It is single layered and protective in function. The cells undergo repeated anticlinal divisions to cope up with the rapidly enlarging internal tissues.
It is generally a single layer of radially elongated cells found below the epidermis. The inner tangential wall develops bands (sometimes radial walls also) of α cellulose (sometimes also slightly lignified). The cells are hygroscopic. In the anthers of aquatic plants,saprophytes, cleistogamous flowers and extreme parasites endothecial differentiation is absent. The cells along the junction of the two sporangia of an anther lobe lack these thickenings. This region is called stomium. This region along with the hygroscopic nature of endothecium helps in the dehiscence of anther at maturity.
c. Middle layers:
Two to three layers of cells next to endothecium constitute middle layers. They are generally ephemeral. They disintegrate or get crushed during maturity.
It is the innermost layer of anther wall and attains its maximum development at the tetrad stage of microsporogenesis. It is derived partly from the peripheral wall layer and partly from the connective tissue of the anther lining the anther locule. Thus, the tapetum is dual in origin. It nourishes the developing sporogenous tissue, microspore mother cells and microspores. The cells of the tapetum may remain uninucleate or may contain more than one nucleus or the nucleus may become polyploid. It also contributes to the wall materials, sporopollenin, pollenkitt, tryphine and number of proteins that control incompatibility reaction .Tapetum also controls the fertility or sterility of the microspores or pollen grains.
There are two types of tapetum based on its behaviour.
Secretory tapetum (parietal/glandular/ cellular): The tapetum retains the original position and cellular integrity and nourishes the developing microspores.
Invasive tapetum (periplasmodial): The cells loose their inner tangential and radial walls and the protoplast of all tapetal cells coalesces to form a periplasmodium.
Functions of Tapetum:
• It supplies nutrition to the developing microspores.
• It contributes sporopollenin through ubisch bodies thus plays an important role in pollen wall formation.
The pollenkitt material is contributed by tapetal cells and is later transferred to the pollen surface.
• Exine proteins responsible for ‘rejection reaction’ of the stigma are present in the cavities of the exine. These proteins are derived from tapetal cells.
2. Anther Cavity :
The anther cavity is filled with microspores in young stages or with pollen grains at maturity. The meiotic division of microspore mother cells gives rise to microspores which are haploid in nature.
It is the column of sterile tissue surrounded by the anther lobe. It possesses vascular tissues. It also contributes to the inner tapetum.
Microspores and pollen grains
Microspores are the immediate product of meiosis of the microspore mother cell whereas the pollen grain is derived from the microspore. The microspores have protoplast surrounded by a wall which is yet to be fully developed. The pollen protoplast consists of dense cytoplasm with a centrally located nucleus. The wall is differentiated into two layers, namely, inner layer called intine and outer layer called exine. Intine is thin, uniform and is made up of pectin, hemicellulose, cellulose and callose together with proteins. Exine is thick and is made up of cellulose, sporopollenin and pollenkitt. The exine is not uniform and is thin at certain areas. When these thin areas are small and round it is called germ pores or when elongated it is called furrows. It is associated with germination of pollen grains. The sporopollenin is generally absent in germ pores.The surface of the exine is either smooth or sculptured in various patterns (rod like, grooved, warty, punctuate etc.) The sculpturing pattern is used in the plant identification and classification. Shape of a pollen grain varies from species to species. It may be globose, ellipsoid, fusiform, lobed, angular or crescent shaped. The size of the pollen varies from 10 micrometers in Myosotis to 200 micrometers in members of the family Cucurbitaceae and Nyctaginaceae Pollenkitt is contributed by the tapetum and coloured yellow or orange and is chiefly made of carotenoids or flavonoids. It is an oily layer forming a thick viscous coating over pollen surface. It attracts insects and protects damage from UV radiation. Development of Male gametophyte: The microspore is the first cell of the male gametophyte and is haploid. The development of male gametophyte takes place while they are still in the microsporangium. The nucleus of the microspore divides mitotically to form a vegetative and a generative nucleus. A wall is laid around the generative nucleus resulting in the formation of two unequal cells, a large irregular nucleus bearing with abundant food reserve called vegetative cell and a small generative cell. Generally at this 2 celled stage, the pollens are liberated from the anther. In some plants the generative cell again undergoes a division to form two male gametes. The pollen is liberated at 2 celled stage. In 60% of the angiosperms pollen is liberated in 2 celled stage. Further, the growth of the male gametophyte occurs only if the pollen reaches the right stigma. The pollen on reaching the stigma absorbs moisture and swells.
The intine grows as pollen tube through the germ pore. In case the pollen is liberated at 2 celled stage the generative cell divides in the pollen into 2 male cells (sperms) after reaching the stigma or in the pollen tube before reaching the embryo sac.