090 Pollen Viability in Inland Saltgrass

in HortScience
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  • 1 Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523

Distichlis spicata var. stricta (Torrey) Beetle is a native grass that tolerates salt, high pH, and some heavy metals. It has been proposed for use in several challenging environments, including mine spoils and salt-impacted areas of golf courses. But, its widespread use has been hindered by several factors, one of which is poor seed set. Because chromosome numbers are variable and some genotypes are aneuploids, there was concern that pollen viability in some genotypes was low. Pollen from several genotypes failed to germinate in vitro on four artificial media prepared with various levels of osmoticum. However, hand pollination in vivo resulted in profuse pollen germination for all genotypes tested. Germination on pollinated stigmas was observed at intervals beginning 2 h after pollination with a fluorescence microscope using aniline blue and acridine orange stains and in bright field using toluidine-O stain. Very young stigmas seemed unreceptive and, while pollen would germinate, the pollen tubes would not grow down through the style. On receptive stigmas, many pollen tubes grew down toward the egg and some reached it within 24 h. There was no evidence of impaired fertility. Aniline blue was the best method for observing pollen tube growth through the style, although toluidine-O was adequate for observing germination on the stigmatic surface.