Order of fertilization within the ovary in Phaseolus coccineus L. (Leguminosae)

O. J. Rocha, A. G. Stephenson

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19 Scopus citations


Phaseolus coccineus typically has six linearly arranged ovules per ovary. The three ovules near the stylar end of the fruit (positions one, two, and three) are more likely to produce mature seeds, to produce heavier seeds, and to produce more vigorous progeny than the ovules in positions near the peduncular/basal end of the fruit (ovule positions four, five, and six). We conducted a series of field experiments designed to supplement our understanding of the mechanisms determining these position effects. We found that approximately 98% of the ovules in 752 fruits were fertilized - about 0.6% of the stylar ovules were not fertilized, whereas 3.2% of the basal ovules were unfertilized. Moreover, we found that only about 49% of the ovules in these 752 fruits produced mature seeds. Over 60% of the stylar ovules produced mature seeds, whereas only 37% of the basal ovules produced mature seeds. Consequently, the proportion of fertilized ovules cannot explain the differences in seed maturation among the ovule positions. We found that after 6.5 h most of the fertilized ovules were located in the stylar ovule positions, and that there were no fertilized ovules in ovule positions five and six, indicating that the stylar ovules are fertilized first. When only the fastest growing pollen tubes were permitted to enter the ovary (due to exision of the style), only the ovules at the stylar end were fertilized, indicating that the ovule positions that are fertilized first are indeed fertilized by the fastest growing pollen tubes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-131
Number of pages6
JournalSexual Plant Reproduction
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1991

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology


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