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Natalie A. Melrose

Project Topic / Abstract:

“Pollen Development in the Water Lily Cabomba caroliniana (Cabombaceae; Nymphaeales)”

The water lily Cabomba caroliniana Gray is commonly known as fanwort and occurs throughout North and South America in subtropical to temperate environments. While fanwort enjoys popularity as an aquarium plant, it is also a nuisance, often clogging recreational waterways. Evolutionarily, water lilies are widely regarded to be among the most primitive flowering plants. Although studies of pollen morphology and development provide important data for determining evolutionary relationships, little is known about these reproductive traits in Cabomba. The objective of this study was to use light, scanning electron, and transmission electron microscopy to examine pollen development within Cabomba caroliniana. The research primarily focused on the formation of the various pollen wall layers: tectum, infratectal collumellae, foot layer, endexine, and intine. In addition, the concomitant development of the anther was investigated, with particular emphasis on the cell layer in direct contact with the pollen grains, the tapetum. All major ontogenetic stages have been identified, including microspore mother cells, tetrads, free microspores, and mature pollen grains. Pollen at each stage was compared with regard to a number of key characters such as size, surface sculpture, aperture structure, wall ultrastructure, and presence of wall microchannels.


  • Taylor, M. L., B. L. Gutman, N. A. Melrose, A. M. Ingraham, J. A. Schwatz, and J. M. Osborn. 2008. Pollen and anther ontogeny in Cabomba caroliniana (Cabombaceae, Nymphaeales). American Journal of Botany 95:399-413. Article (PDF)



  • Truman Undergraduate Research Symposium (Kirksville, MO)


  • National Conference on Undergraduate Research (Whitewater, WI)
  • Truman Undergraduate Research Symposium (Kirksville, MO)