Success in Seed Production

Flowering to produce seeds is used by all plants around the world. Therefore, flowering is a successful way to sexually reproduce in the many environments in which plants grow. Success is relative however, and many factors can influence the degree to which male and female gametes get together to make seeds. Answer the following questions and you will get an idea of the nature of some of these factors that influence the synchrony and status of gamete production in the flower.



A corn plant is flowering during a week when the highs are over 100° F. The ear that is harvested from this plant has about 100 seeds scattered around the ear rather than the 600 seeds that can potentially be produced. This observation indicates that the high temps...

Looks Good! Correct: If the female gametes were damaged we might not expect any seed development. Pollen damage can result in the sporadic seed production observed.

A soybean plant is flowering during a very hot day. A few days later all the flowers have fallen off the plant and no pods with seeds are developing. This observation indicates that the high temps...

Looks Good! Correct: Lack of seed development that destroys either male or female will result in no seed set.

If a female cottonwood tree is south of any male cottonwood trees that are within a mile. The female tree produces no seed that year. This observation indicates that...

Looks Good! Correct: The pollen will need to travel from a male tree to a female tree to get seed production. Strong southern winds during pollen shed prevented pollen from reaching the female tree.

A sorghum plant is male sterile. This means it produces perfect flowers but the stamen is not able to produce viable pollen. This male sterile plant produces seed. This observation indicates that because of male sterility the plant…

Looks Good! Correct: Two of these statements must be true. The Male sterility does not impact the pistil in the sorghum flowers. If pollen can travel from a nearby male fertile plant, a seed can be produced as a result of this cross pollination.

A pearl millet plant has flowers in which the pistil matures and its stigma is receptive to pollen two days before the anthers mature and shed pollen in that flower. Because of the asynchrony in the male and female flower part development, a seed can develop in a pearl millet flower by cross pollination if...

Looks Good! Correct: a nearby flower that is two days ahead in maturity will have a mature stamen that can produce pollen to land on the receptive female.

From the questions above, it can be seen that environmental conditions such as temperature and wind can influence the success of a male and female gamete coming together in a flower. The status of the flowering parts can also be controlled by genes which influence when or if a stamen or pistil is functional. Therefore, flowering can occur without a successful reproductive result.