Pollen is the male gamctophytc of seed plants and therefore is involved in reproduction. In addition, pollen is studied for other reasons. The study of pollen, known as palynologv, has applications in many diverse fields, including geology, ecology, anthropology, archaeology, criminology; mcdicinc, and aerobiology.
\Vind-pollinatcd plants produce millions (sometimes billions) of pollen grains. The pollen grains are usually small, lightweight, dry, and easily earned by the wind. When some wind-pollinated trees are in flower, clouds of pollen are seen if the tree is disturbed by wind or shaking. Only a tiny percent of this pollen reaches the stigma of a compatible plant. Most of it is carried away by the wind and eventually set-tics on the ground and in lakes, streams, and bogs. This excess pollen is the focus of study by palynologists.
The pollen wall consists of an inner layer, the intine, and an outer layer, the exinc. The exinc wall may be quite elaborate, with spines, warts, or ridges. This ornamentation permits the identification of most pollen grains. In addition, openings (apertures) may be present in the cxine; these openings may be pores or furrows (technically callcd colpi) or both.
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