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The Essential Journey of the Pollen Tube

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Pollen is vital for both plant reproduction and food for animals, including humans. When a pollen grain lands on a plant’s stigma, it germinates, and a pollen tube begins to grow towards the ovule, a word that means “small egg.”

When the pollen tube reaches the ovule, it releases two sperm cells. This starts double fertilization: one sperm cell joins with the ovule to make a new plant, and the other joins with a central cell to provide nutrient-rich endospermβ€”food for the new plant.

Double Fertilization
Endosperm, a crucial component found in wheat and corn, is often overlooked but plays a vital role in food production. Major crops like corn, rice, wheat, and tomatoes depend on successful fertilization by the pollen tube, highlighting the importance of this process.

This SciToons animation from Brown University visualizes The Essential Journey of the Pollen Tube and explains how fossil fuel-induced heat can affect this age-old process.

food and fertilization
The video explains that one solution for curbing climate change would be to significantly reduce our emission of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. Scientists and agriculture professionals are also working to climate-proof our staple crops by developing thermotolerant plants that can still be fertilized in a warming world.

“To do this, more research needs to be done to understand how each step of the pollen tube journey could be engineered to be more heat-resistant. So the next time you sneeze, or eat a piece of pizza, be sure to think about the mighty pollen tube, and the scientists working hard to protect its incredible journey.”

Watch these related videos next on TKSST:
β€’Β Why Do Flowers Exist? Gymnosperms, angiosperms, and how seeds evolved
β€’Β What is Botany? Alexis Nikole Nelson explains
β€’Β The Future of Food: Can we create the β€œperfect” farm?
β€’Β The Maya Milpa Cycle, a sustainable forest gardening method
β€’Β The story of Chief Handsome Lake and the nearly lost Three Sisters
β€’Β A bumblebee dislodges pollen in slow-mo

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