The plant world is full of surprises and wonders. The way plants have evolved to adapt and reproduce is truly amazing. This is demonstrated by the different types of pollination, by which plants manage to survive and carry out their own reproduction. Without a doubt, this is a very interesting topic.
Next, we will comment further on the pollination process. We will explain how it is produced and the importance it has, not only for the plant kingdom, but for the entire planet. Besides, We will talk about the different types of pollination that exist. If the subject interests you, I recommend that you continue reading.
What is pollination?
Before talking about the different types of pollination that exist, we will first explain what exactly this process consists of. Well, plant pollination is basically a biological process by which the pollen produced by the male structures of the plants is transported to the female parts. These can be found in the same plant, as long as that plant has both male and female organs and/or flowers. But pollination also takes place between different plants, when they have only male or female flowers. I anticipate that, in the latter case, the process is called cross-pollination.
It must be said that this curious process is the first phase of plant reproduction. Thus, we can state that the main function of pollination is clearly the first step in ensuring the survival and evolution of plants through reproduction. If you want to know more about this subject, I recommend that you take a look at this article which discusses what plant fertilization is.
How do plants pollinate?
As we commented before, the whole process of pollination It is essential for plant fertilization to take place. otherwise they could not reproduce. However, we will comment in more detail on what exactly this process consists of.
What is pollination?
In natural pollination, The transport of pollen is ensured by abiotic and biotic agents. These ensure that the male gametes, i.e. the pollen, which are initially in the stamens of the flowers, can fertilize the female gametes or ovules by depositing them in the pistil of the flowers.
As you will surely imagine, pollination has various strategies to carry out the process. These were developed both by the plants themselves and by pollinating agents. A good example of the pollination process carried out by insects is the incredible case of the Ophrys bombyliflora, known as the bumblebee orchid. Their colors and texture closely resemble the bodies of females of some bumblebee species, hence their name. Thanks to this similarity, this flower manages to attract male bumblebees. These, perched at the top of the flower, fill their body covered with pollen hairs that they end up carrying to other orchids. And this is how this species of plant reproduces.
What are the 4 types of pollination?
The plant world is full of amazing processes and strategies. A good example is the different types of pollination that exist, which we are going to comment on in this section. This process can be distinguished by the method by which it is performed. This would be the following classification:
- Wind pollination: It is carried by the wind.
- Hydrophilic pollination: It unfolds through water.
- Zoophilic pollination: It is made by animals.
In this last group, zoophilic pollination, we distinguish above all a specific subgroup, which may be the most famous of all: entomophilous pollination, which is that carried out by insects. There are thousands of insects that participate in the pollination process in millions of different plants found in countless ecosystems across the planet.
Apart from this classification, we can also distinguish four main types of pollination, which we will comment on below:
Let’s start with cross pollination. What is this guy? How is it made? Well, in this type of pollination, pollen grains are carried from the flower of one plant to the flower of another. That’s why it’s called a “crusade”. Pollen is transported from one plant to another by a so-called external vector. It can be both abiotic and biotic. Cross-pollination exists when birds such as hummingbirds or bats are involved in this process; insects such as bees, wasps and butterflies; wind or water. In this large group we could include all the types that we have commented on previously: anemophilous pollination, hydrophilic pollination and zoophilic pollination.
How to tell the difference between male and female melon
This type, cross-pollination, is necessary in cases where the male and female organs are not in the same copy, but also when these appear at different times of plant growth. Some examples of them would be almond tree, melons and sunflower. But there are many other species that need cross-pollination to reproduce.
Among the four main types of pollination, direct pollination also stands out, also called self-fertilization or self-pollination. In such cases, pollen is transferred from the anthers of a flower to the stigmas of the flower. The most remarkable thing in this process is that the pollen grain only comes from one point to another, without an intermediary vector, as it happens with cross-pollination.
Plant species that perform direct pollination or self-pollination They are said to be autogamous. The great advantage of this type of pollination is that plant species are able to reproduce even without the presence of external pollinators. It should also be noted that almost no pollen is wasted in this way, as the distances traveled by the grains are usually very short. Self-pollinating plants include, for example, beans, mangoes, peanuts and peas.
Now let’s talk about natural pollination. As expected, this is the one that happens without human intervention, that is, naturally. All these cases relating to direct pollination, which includes anemophilous, hydrophilic and entomophilous types of pollination, are considered as examples of natural pollination.
Why an insect hotel? The importance of pollination
After many years of evolution, plant species have found a way to transport pollen completely naturally and without the help of humans be able to reproduce, responding to specific needs. All the types of pollination we have discussed so far happen naturally, without any intervention on our part.
Unlike natural pollination, we have artificial pollination, also known as hand pollination. As you will surely imagine, this process takes place with the intervention of the human being. In fact, it happens when we override nature during this process and control the reproduction of plants.
Typically, manually running this process is usually done by two reasons:
- when there istoo few natural pollinators in a specific area, where the agricultural crop is located.
- When we want prevent alterations of specific characteristics from occurring of a certain plant.
But how is this work accomplished? It is simple but laborious in large quantities. It is important to bag the flowers to avoid the arrival of natural pollinators. Collect the pollen from the stamens and transfer them to the stigma. For this you can use a brush for example. Then you need to cover the flowers until they have been fertilized.
Importance of pollination
With all this information, we will already understand what pollination is and its importance for the plant kingdom. However, this process is not only vital for plants, but also for us. thanks to them the balance of ecosystems is maintained as well as the food security of populations. It should not be forgotten that agricultural production depends directly on the pollination of crops. Without pollination, new plant individuals would not emerge. Without new plants, we and herbivorous animals would run out of food. Due to the disappearance of herbivores, carnivorous animals would also be negatively affected.
It should also be noted that the great biodiversity of pollinators promotes both the balance of natural ecosystems and cultures. In this way, both in natural and agricultural ecosystems, resilience can be developed through the biodiversity of pollinators that exist there. Their ecological function and their response to environmental conditions make it possible to risks caused by climate change are minimized. This detail is extremely important, because current and future ecosystems are strongly threatened by this issue.
As you can see, pollination is not only essential for plants, but also for the entire planet. Therefore, we must take care and respect the ecosystems.