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  • Author or Editor: Adriana Pinheiro Martinelli x
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Pomegranate [Punica granatum (Punicaceae)] is characterized by having two types of flowers on the same tree: hermaphroditic bisexual flowers and functionally male flowers. This condition, defined as functional andromonoecy, can result in decreased yields resulting from the inability of male flowers to set fruit. Morphological and histological analyses of bisexual and male flowers were conducted using light and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) to characterize the different flower types observed in pomegranate plants and to better understand their developmental differences. Bisexual flowers had a discoid stigma covered with copious exudate, elongated stigmatic papillae, a single elongate style, and numerous stamens inserted on the inner wall of the calyx tube. Using fluorescence staining, high numbers of pollen tubes were observed growing through a central stylar canal. Ovules were numerous, elliptical, and anatropous. In contrast, male flowers had reduced female parts and exhibited shortened pistils of variable heights. Stigmatic papillae of male flowers had little exudate yet supported pollen germination. However, pollen tubes were rarely observed in styles. Ovules in male flowers were rudimentary and exhibited various stages of degeneration. Pollen from both types of flowers was of similar size, ≈20 μm, and exhibited similar percent germination using in vitro germination assays. Pollen germination was strongly influenced by temperature. Maximal germination (greater than 74%) was obtained at 25 and 35 °C; pollen germination was significantly lower at 15 °C (58%) and 5 °C (10%).

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Many different species of Bromeliaceae are endangered and their conservation requires specific knowledge of their growth habits and propagation. In vitro culture of bromeliads is an important method for efficient clonal propagation and in vitro seed germination can be used to maintain genetic variability. The present work aims to evaluate the in vitro growth and nutrient concentration in leaves of the epiphyte bromeliads Vriesea friburguensis Mez, Vriesea hieroglyphica (Carrière) E. Morren, and Vriesea unilateralis Mez, which exhibit slow rates of growth in vivo and in vitro. Initially, we compared the endogenous mineral composition of bromeliad plantlets grown in half-strength Murashige and Skoog (MS) medium and the mineral composition considered adequate in the literature. This approach suggested that calcium (Ca) is a critical nutrient and this was considered for new media formulation. Three new culture media were defined in which the main changes to half-strength MS medium were an increase in Ca, magnesium, sulfur, copper, and chloride and a decrease in iron, maintaining the nitrate:ammonium rate at ≈2:1. The main difference among the three new media formulated was Ca concentration, which varied from 1.5 mm in half-strength MS to 3.0, 6.0, and 12 mm in M2, M3, and M4 media, respectively. Consistently, all three species exhibited significantly higher fresh and dry weight on M4, the newly defined medium with the highest level of Ca (12 mm). Leaf nitrogen, potassium, zinc, magnesium, and boron concentrations increased as Ca concentration in the medium increased from 1.5 to 12 mm.

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