XENIA AND METAXENIA: DEFINITIONS AND OTHER BOUNDARIES

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  • 1 Department of Pomology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616-8683.

Xenia and metaxenia are phenomena dealing with the effects that pollen from different sources have on certain characteristics exhibited by seeds and fruits in a variety of species. A review of dictionaries, textbooks, and the scientific literature reveals that there is widespread confusion with regard to the nature of these phenomena and how they are to be distinguished. This discussion will attempt to clarify the boundary between these related phenomena by examining both the origins of the terms and our present understanding of the metabolism and anatomy involved. From this perspective, we contend that xenia applies to pollen effects as exhibited in the syngamous parts of ovules, that is, the embryo and endosperm only. Metaxenia applies to such effects found in any structure beyond the embryo and endosperm, this is, in tissues which derive wholly from mother plant material. Metaxenia then encompasses effects found in seed parts such as the nucellus and testa as well as those found in carpels and accessory tissue.

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