Experiments were conducted to determine if differential responses of walnut pollen germination to temperature, previously observed to occur among genotypes, were genetically fixed or expressions of phenotypic plasticity representing adaptive responses to temperatures experienced during pollen development. Individual branches of a single walnut (Juglans regia L. cv. Serr) tree were warmed above ambient conditions during the final stages of pollen differentiation by directing a stream of moist, heated air into polyethylene enclosures, each containing an individual branch unit. Pollen was collected at staminate anthesis and incubated in germination medium on a temperature gradient apparatus. Model curves fitted to the in vitro pollen germination data were used to determine optimum germination temperatures. We found adaptive responses of pollen germination to temperatures experienced during pollen development. The optimum temperature for in vitro germination for pollen from branches maintained under ambient conditions was lower than that of pollen from branches with elevated temperature, and optimum germination temperature increased as a log function of integrated daily temperature (degree-days) experienced during pollen development.
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