The regal pelargonium (P. x domesticum) is generally characterized by low fertility and poor seed set. In studys designed to assess factors that contribute to low fecundity in this crop we have examined genotype interactions among various cultivars and have identified lines that differ in degree of male and female fertility.
The objective of this study was to examine genotypic variation, other than self-incompatibility, of P. x domesticum pistils in supporting the development of the male gametophyte. Variation in pollen germination and growth was assessed after crossing either a male of high fertility or a mate of poor fertility to nine different selections of varying female fertility. Styles were harvested 2 hours after pollination and examined using fluorescence microscopy to determine the number of germinated pollen grains on the stigma and the number of pollen tubes growing down the style.
Female selections displayed large differences in their ability to support pollen tubes. Styles from different females pollinated with the same male varied in average number of pollen tubes from 30 to 2.