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Thread: Pollination

  1. #1
    Fallen Cannabis Warrior Medical Marijuana's Avatar
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    Sexual Propagation

    Sexual propagation requires the union of staminate pollen and pistillate ovule, the formation of viable seed, and the creation of individuals with newly recombinant genotypes. Pollen and ovules are formed by reduction divisions (meiosis) in which the 10 chromosome pairs fail to replicate, so that each of the two daughter-cells contains one-half of the chromosomes from the mother cell. This is known as the haploid (in) condition where in = 10 chromosomes. The diploid condition is restored upon fertilization resulting in diploid (2n) individuals with a haploid set of chromosomes from each parent. Offspring may resemble the staminate, pistillate, both, or neither parent and considerable variation in offspring is to be expected. Traits may be controlled by a single gene or a combination of genes, resulting in further potential diversity.

    The terms homozygous and heterozygous are useful in describing the genotype of a particular plant. If the genes controlling a trait are the same on one chromosome as those on the opposite member of the chromosome pair (homologous chromosomes), the plant is homozygous and will "breed true" for that trait if self-pollinated or crossed with an individual of identical genotype for that trait. The traits possessed by the homozygous parent will be transmitted to the offspring, which will resemble each other and the parent. If the genes on one chromosome differ from the genes on its homologous chromosome then the plant is termed heterozygous; the resultant offspring may not possess the parental traits and will most probably differ from each other. Imported Cannabis strains usually exhibit great seedling diversity for most traits and many types will be discovered.

    To minimize variation in seedlings and ensure preservation of desirable parental traits in offspring, certain careful procedures are followed as illustrated in Chapter III. The actual mechanisms of sexual propagation and seed production will be thoroughly explained here.

    Biology of Pollination

    Pollination is the event of pollen landing on a stigmatic surface such as the pistil, and fertilization is the union of the staminate chromosomes from the pollen with the pistillate chromosomes from the ovule.

    Pollination begins with dehiscence (release of pollen) from staminate flowers. Millions of pollen grains float through the air on light breezes, and many land on the stigmatic surfaces of nearby pistillate plants. If the pistil is ripe, the pollen grain will germinate and send out a long pollen tube much as a seed pushes out a root. The tube contains a haploid (in) generative nucleus and grows downward toward the ovule at the base of the pistils. When the pollen tube reaches the ovule, the staminate haploid nucleus fuses with the pistillate haploid nucleus and the diploid condition is restored. Germination of the pollen grain occurs 15 to 20 minutes after contact with the stigmatic surface (pistil); fertilization may take up to two days in cooler temperatures. Soon after fertilization, the pistils wither away as the ovule and surrounding calyx begin to swell. If the plant is properly watered, seed will form and sexual reproduction is complete. It is crucial that no part of the cycle be interrupted or viable seed will not form. If the pollen is subjected to extremes of temperature, humidity, or moisture, it will fail to germinate, the pollen tube will die prior to fertilization, or the embryo will be unable to develop into a mature seed. Techniques for successful pollination have been designed with all these criteria in mind.

    Controlled versus Random Pollinations

    The seeds with which most cultivators begin represent varied genotypes even when they originate from the same floral cluster of marijuana, and not all of these genotypes will prove favorable. Seeds collected from imported shipments are the result of totally random pollinations among many genotypes. If elimination of pollination was at tempted and only a few seeds appear, the likelihood is very high that these pollinations were caused by a late flowering staminate plant or a hermaphrodite, adversely affecting the genotype of the offspring. Once the offspring of imported strains are in the hands of a competent breeder, selection and replication of favorable phenotypes by controlled breeding may begin. Only one or two individuals out of many may prove acceptable as parents. If the cultivator allows random pollination to occur again, the population not only fails to improve, it may even degenerate through natural and accidental selection of unfavorable traits. We must therefore turn to techniques of controlled pollination by which the breeder attempts to take control and deter mine the genotype of future offspring.

    Pollination Techniques

    Controlled hand pollination consists of two basic steps: collecting pollen from the anthers of the staminate parent and applying pollen to the receptive stigmatic surfaces of the pistillate parent. Both steps are carefully con trolled so that no pollen escapes to cause random pollinations. Since Cannabis is a wind-pollinated species, enclosures are employed which isolate the ripe flowers from wind, eliminating pollination, yet allowing enough light penetration and air circulation for the pollen and seeds to develop without suffocating. Paper and very tightly woven cloth seem to be the most suitable materials. Coarse cloth allows pollen to escape and plastic materials tend to collect transpired water and rot the flowers. Light-colored opaque or translucent reflective materials remain cooler in the sun than dark or transparent materials, which either absorb solar heat directly or create a greenhouse effect, heating the flowers inside and killing the pollen. Pollination bags are easily constructed by gluing together vegetable parchment (a strong breathable paper for steaming vegetables) and clear nylon oven bags (for observation windows) with silicon glue. Breathable synthetic fabrics such as Gore-Tex are used with great success. Seed production requires both successful pollination and fertilization, so the conditions inside the enclosures must remain suitable for pollen-tube growth and fertilization. It is most convenient and effective to use the same enclosure to collect pollen and apply it, reducing contamination during pollen transfer. Controlled "free" pollinations may also be made if only one pollen parent is allowed to remain in an isolated area of the field and no pollinations are caused by hermaphrodites or late-maturing staminate plants. If the selected staminate parent drops pollen when there are only a few primordial flowers on the pistillate seed parent, then only a few seeds will form in the basal flowers and the rest of the flower cluster will be seedless. Early fertilization might also help fix the sex of the pistillate plant, helping to prevent hermaphrodism. Later, hand pollinations can be performed on the same pistillate parent by removing the early seeds from each limb to be re-pollinated, so avoiding confusion. Hermaphrodite or monoecious plants may be isolated from the remainder of the population and allowed to freely self-pollinate if pure-breeding offspring are desired to preserve a selected trait. Selfed hermaphrodites usually give rise to hermaphrodite offspring.

    Pollen may be collected in several ways. If the propagator has an isolated area where staminate plants can grow separate from each other to avoid mutual contamination and can be allowed to shed pollen without endangering the remainder of the population, then direct collection may be used. A small vial, glass plate, or mirror is held beneath a recently-opened staminate flower which appears to be releasing pollen, and the pollen is dislodged by tap ping the anthers. Pollen may also be collected by placing whole limbs or clusters of staminate flowers on a piece of paper or glass and allowing them to dry in a cool, still place. Pollen will drop from some of the anthers as they dry, and this may be scraped up and stored for a short time in a cool, dark, dry spot. A simple method is to place the open pollen vial or folded paper in a larger sealable container with a dozen or more fresh, dry soda crackers or a cup of dry white rice. The sealed container is stored in the refrigerator and the dry crackers or rice act as a desiccant, absorbing moisture from the pollen.

    Any breeze may interfere with collection and cause contamination with pollen from neighboring plants. Early morning is the best time to collect pollen, as it has not been exposed to the heat of the day. All equipment used for collection, including hands, must be cleaned before continuing to the next pollen source. This ensures protection of each pollen sample from contamination with pollen from different plants.

    Staminate flowers will often open several hours before the onset of pollen release. If flowers are collected at this time they can be placed in a covered bottle where they will open and release pollen within two days. A carefully sealed paper cover allows air circulation, facilitates the release of pollen, and prevents mold.

    Both of the previously described methods of pollen collection are susceptible to gusts of wind, which may cause contamination problems if the staminate pollen plants grow at all close to the remaining pistillate plants. There fore, a method has been designed so that controlled pollen collection and application can be performed in the same area without the need to move staminate plants from their original location. Besides the advantages of convenience, the pollen parents mature under the same conditions as the seed parents, thus more accurately expressing their phenotypes.

    The first step in collecting pollen is, of course, the selection of a staminate or pollen parent. Healthy individuals with well-developed clusters of flowers are chosen. The appearance of the first staminate primordia or male sex signs often brings a feeling of panic ("stamenoia") to the cultivator of seedless Cannabis, and potential pollen parents are prematurely removed. Staminate primordia need to develop from one to five weeks before the flowers open and pollen is released. During this period the selected pollen plants are carefully watched, daily or hourly if necessary, for developmental rates vary greatly and pollen may be released quite early in some strains. The remaining staminate plants that are unsuitable for breeding are destroyed and the pollen plants specially labeled to avoid confusion and extra work.

    As the first flowers begin to swell, they are removed prior to pollen release and destroyed. Tossing them on the ground is ineffective because they may release pollen as they dry. When the staminate plant enters its full floral condition and more ripe flowers appear than can be easily controlled, limbs with the most ripe flowers are chosen. It is usually safest to collect pollen from two limbs for each intended cross, in case one fails to develop. If there are ten prospective seed parents, pollen from twenty limbs on the pollen parent is collected. In this case, the twenty most flowered limb tips are selected and all the remaining flowering clusters on the plant are removed to prevent stray pollinations. Large leaves are left on the remainder of the plant but are removed at the limb tips to minimize condensation of water vapor released inside the enclosure. The portions removed from the pollen parent are saved for later analysis and phenotype characterization.

    The pollination enclosures are secured and the plant is checked for any shoots where flowers might develop outside the enclosure. The completely open enclosure is slipped over the limb tip and secured with a tight but stretchable seal such as a rubber band, elastic, or plastic plant tie-tape to ensure a tight seal and prevent crushing of the vascular tissues of the stem. String and wire are avoided. If enclosures are tied to weak limbs they may be supported; the bags will also remain cooler if they are shaded. Hands are always washed before and after handling each pollen sample to prevent accidental pollen transfer and contamination.

    Enclosures for collecting and applying pollen and preventing stray pollination are simple in design and construction. Paper bags make convenient enclosures. Long narrow bags such as light-gauge quart-bottle bags, giant popcorn bags or bakery bags provide a convenient shape for covering the limb tip. The thinner the paper used the more air circulation is allowed, and the better the flowers will develop. Very thick paper or plastic bags are never used. Most available bags are made with water soluble glue and may come apart after rain or watering. All seams are sealed with waterproof tape or silicon glue and the bags should not be handled when wet since they tear easily. Bags of Gore-Tex cloth or vegetable parchment will not tear when wet. Paper bags make labeling easy and each bag is marked in waterproof ink with the number of the individual pollen parent, the date and time the enclosure was secured, and any useful notes. Room is left to add the date of pollen collection and necessary information about the future seed parent it will pollinate.

    Pollen release is fairly rapid inside the bags, and after two days to a week the limbs may be removed and dried in a cool dark place, unless the bags are placed too early or the pollen parent develops very slowly. To inspect the progress of pollen release, a flashlight is held behind the bag at night and the silhouettes of the opening flowers are easily seen. In some cases, clear nylon windows are in stalled with silicon glue for greater visibility. When flowering is at its peak and many flowers have just opened, collection is completed, and the limb, with its bag attached, is cut. If the limb is cut too early, the flowers will not have shed any pollen; if the bag remains on the plant too long, most of the pollen will be dropped inside the bag where heat and moisture will destroy it. When flowering is at its peak, millions of pollen grains are released and many more flowers will open after the limbs are collected. The bags are collected early in the morning before the sun has time to heat them up. The bags and their contents are dried in a cool dark place to avoid mold and pollen spoilage. If pollen becomes moist, it will germinate and spoil, therefore dry storage is imperative.

    After the staminate limbs have dried and pollen re lease has stopped, the bags are shaken vigorously, allowed to settle, and carefully untied. The limbs and loose flowers are removed, since they are a source of moisture that could promote mold growth, and the pollen bags are re sealed. The bags may be stored as they are until the seed parent is ready for pollination, or the pollen may be re moved and stored in cool, dry, dark vials for later use and hand application. Before storing pollen, any other plant parts present are removed with a screen. A piece of fuel filter screening placed across the top of a mason jar works well, as does a fine-mesh tea strainer.

    Now a pistillate plant is chosen as the seed parent. A pistillate flower cluster is ripe for fertilization so long as pale, slender pistils emerge from the calyxes. Withered, dark pistils protruding from swollen, resin encrusted calyxes are a sign that the reproductive peak has long passed. Cannabis plants can be successfully pollinated as soon as the first primordia show pistils and until just before harvest, but the largest yield of uniform, healthy seeds is achieved by pollinating in the peak floral stage. At this time, the seed plant is covered with thick clusters of white pistils. Few pistils are brown and withered, and resin production has just begun. This is the most receptive time for fertilization, still early in the seed plant’s life, with plenty of time remaining for the seeds to mature. Healthy, well flowered lower limbs on the shaded side of the plant are selected. Shaded buds will not heat up in the bags as much as buds in the hot sun, and this will help protect the sensitive pistils. When possible, two terminal clusters of pistillate flowers are chosen for each pollen bag. In this way, with two pollen bags for each seed parent and two clusters of pistillate flowers for each bag, there are four opportunities to perform the cross successfully. Remember that production of viable seed requires successful pollination, fertilization and embryo development. Since interfering with any part of this cycle precludes seed development, fertilization failure is guarded against by duplicating all steps.

    Before the pollen bags are used, the seed parent information is added to the pollen parent data. Included is the number of the seed parent, the date of pollination, and any comments about the phenotypes of both parents. Also, for each of the selected pistillate clusters, a tag containing the same information is made and secured to the limb below the closure of the bag. A warm, windless evening is chosen for pollination so the pollen tube has time to grow before sunrise. After removing most of the shade leaves from the tips of the limbs to be pollinated, the pollen is tapped away from the mouth of the bag. The bag is then carefully opened and slipped over two inverted limb tips, taking care not to release any pollen, and tied securely with an expandable band. The bag is shaken vigorously, so the pollen will be evenly dispersed throughout the bag, facilitating complete pollination. Fresh bags are sometimes used, either charged with pollen prior to being placed over the limb tip, or injected with pollen, using a large syringe or atomizer, after the bag is placed. However, the risk of accidental pollination with injection is higher.

    If only a small quantity of pollen is available it may be used more sparingly by diluting with a neutral powder such as flour before it is used. When pure pollen is used, many pollen grains may land on each pistil when only one is needed for fertilization. Diluted pollen will go further and still produce high fertilization rates. Diluting 1 part pollen with 10 to 100 parts flour is common. Powdered fungicides can also be used since this helps retard the growth of molds in the maturing, seeded, floral clusters.

    The bags may remain on the seed parent for sometime; seeds usually begin to develop within a few days, buttheir development will be retarded by the bags. The propagator waits three full sunny days, then carefully removes and sterilizes or destroys the bags. This way there is little chance of stray pollination. Any viable pollen that failed to pollinate the seed parent will germinate in the warm moist bag and die within three days, along with many of the unpollinated pistils. In particularly cool or overcast conditions a week may be necessary, but the bag is removed at the earliest safe time to ensure proper seed development without stray pollinations. As soon as the bag is removed, the calyxes begin to swell with seed, indicating successful fertilization. Seed parents then need good irrigation or development will be retarded, resulting in small, immature, and nonviable seeds. Seeds develop fastest in

    warm weather and take usually from two to four weeks to mature completely. In cold weather seeds may take up to two months to mature. If seeds get wet in fall rains, they may sprout. Seeds are removed when the calyx begins to dry up and the dark shiny perianth (seed coat) can be seen protruding from the drying calyx. Seeds are labeled and stored in a cool, dark, dry place, This is the method employed by breeders to create seeds of known parentage used to study and improve Cannabis genetics.

    Asexual Propagation

    Asexual propagation (cloning) allows the preservation of genotype because only normal cell division (mitosis) occurs during growth and regeneration. The vegetative (non-reproductive) tissue of Cannabis has 10 pairs of chromosomes in the nucleus of each cell. This is known as the diploid (2n) condition where 2n = 20 chromosomes. During mitosis every chromosome pair replicates and one of the two identical sets of chromosome pairs migrates to each daughter cell, which now has a genotype identical to the mother cell. Consequently, every vegetative cell in a Cannabis plant has the same genotype and a plant resulting from asexual propagation will have the same genotype as the mother plant and will, for all practical purposes, develop identically under the same environmental conditions.

    In Cannabis, mitosis takes place in the shoot apex (meristem), root tip meristems, and the meristematic cambium layer of the stalk. A propagator makes use of these meristematic areas to produce clones that will grow and be multiplied. Asexual propagation techniques such as cuttage, layerage, and division of roots can ensure identical populations as large as the growth and development of the parental material will permit. Clones can be produced from even a single cell, because every cell of the plant possesses the genetic information necessary to regenerate a complete plant.

    Asexual propagation produces clones which perpetuate the unique characteristics of the parent plant. Because of the heterozygous nature of Cannabis, valuable traits may be lost by sexual propagation that can be preserved and multiplied by cloning. Propagation of nearly identical populations of all-pistillate, fast growing, evenly maturing Cannabis is made possible through cloning. Any agricultural or environmental influences will affect all the members of that clone equally.

    The concept of clone does not mean that all members of the clone will necessarily appear identical in all characteristics. The phenotype that we observe in an individual is influenced by its surroundings. Therefore, members of the clone will develop differently under varying environmental conditions. These influences do not affect genotype and therefore are not permanent. Cloning theoretically can pre serve a genotype forever. Vigor may slowly decline due to poor selection of clone material or the constant pressure of disease or environmental stress, but this trend will re verse if the pressures are removed. Shifts in genetic composition occasionally occur during selection for vigorous growth. However, if parental strains are maintained by in frequent cloning this is less likely. Only mutation of a gene in a vegetative cell that then divides and passes on the mutated gene will permanently affect the genotype of the clone. If this mutated portion is cloned or reproduced sexually, the mutant genotype will be further replicated. Mutations in clones usually affect dominance relations and are therefore noticed immediately. Mutations may be induced artificially (but without much predictability) by treating meristematic regions with X-rays, colchicine, or other mutagens.

    The genetic uniformity provided by clones offers a control for experiments designed to quantify the subtle effects of environment and cultural techniques. These subtleties are usually obscured by the extreme diversity resulting from sexual propagation. However, clonal uniformity can also invite serious problems. If a population of clones is subjected to sudden environmental stress, pests, or disease for which it has no defense, every member of the clone is sure to be affected and the entire population may be lost. Since no genetic diversity is found within the clone, no adaptation to new stresses can occur through recombination of genes as in a sexually propagated population.

    In propagation by cuttage or layerage it is only necessary for a new root system to form, since the meristematic shoot apex comes directly from the parental plant. Many stem cells, even in mature plants, have the capability of producing adventitious roots. In fact, every vegetative cell in the plant contains the genetic information needed for an entire plant. Adventitious roots appear spontaneously from stems and old roots as opposed to systemic roots which appear along the developing root system originating in the embryo. In humid conditions (as in the tropics or a green house) adventitious roots occur naturally along the main stalk near the ground and along limbs where they droop and touch the ground.
    Last edited by Medical Marijuana; 04-29-2008 at 06:45 AM.

  2. #2
    420 Member Racefan's Avatar
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    Re: Pollination

    water makes pollen inactive. Just spray the room down with water.