Colloquium: The Utility of Pollen in Systematic and Morphological Studies: A Celebration of the Life of John J. Skvarla
Harley, Madeline .
Pollen: Purpose and Paradox.
Apart from the recognition of the sexual nature of pollen, during the late 17th - early 18th century, the challenges of understanding and elucidating pollen development, ontogeny, cellular composition, and the chemical constituents of the pollen wall have also been well explained. In other words, the purposeful function of pollen grains is well understood. Nevertheless, we still struggle to understand why such perfectly evolved microscopic entities need, in some groups of flowering plants, to have developed such an extraordinary range of either family, genus or species specific variation in the morphology of their pollen exine. Yet, paradoxically, it is this enormous range of largely unexplained variation that enables so many branches of pollen morphological studies to be of continuing importance; from plant taxonomy, systematics, evolution and phylogeny, through palaeopalynology, archaeopalynology, copropalynology, forensic palynology, melissopalynology, and aeropalynology. The functional reasons, either proven or proposed, for the, often elaborate, modifications to the outer layer(s) of the pollen exine are briefly reviewed and, finally, we reflect on the structural beauty of selected examples of pollen form; the conduit between the palynologist and the imagination of an enquiring public through which we can demonstrate in a simple, stunningly visual way, why whole careers can be spent studying pollen.
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1 - Jodrell Laboratory, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Micromorphology Unit, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 3AB, UK
Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Location: Fort Camp Lounge/Gage
Date: Tuesday, July 29th, 2008
Time: 4:00 PM