Phenology

It is the science of the relations of climate and periodic biological phenomena, such as the shedding of pollen. One of the useful aids in identification of pollen is the knowledge of pollination times in comparison to the dates when the samples were obtained. Frequent observations should be made on the development of flowers. Annual records over a period of a few years will enable one to predict for local areas, the onset of pollen types of the different species. It is advisable to include in the phenology list, the names of some plants that have conspicuous flowers, even though their pollen is not airborne. Such records will greatly help in the comparisons of the seasons from year to year. These flowers will act as indicators for a source of airborne pollen. It may be found that some plants flower approximately at the same time each year, while others vary greatly.

Aeropalynological survey and field botanical studies carried out in Bangalore, India has consistently shown that when nonallergenic Taebubia argentia starts flowering, it coincides with the flowering of allergenic Holoptelea integrefolia. Hence, Taebubia argentia acts here as a marker for Holoptelea integrefolia. A set of reference slides of the pollen of common plants of the locality, may be considered essential for such investigations.

For making pollen slides, the method suggested by Wodehouse (1935) is generally used in which fresh pollen is treated with alcohol, stained with methyl green or safranin, and mounted in glycerine jelly. In addition to field studies, further reliable information about important plants responsible for pollinosis is obtained. The compilation of permanent reference slides is referred as a pollen herbarium, which is useful for the identification of airborne pollen.

A pollen calendar is constructed on the basis of field botanical studies as well as aeropalynological surveys. The compilation of a pollen calendar is the ultimate objective of aerobiologists, as this is most useful for clinicians in diagnosis and treatment of allergy.

Pollen is produced by the seed plants that include gymnosperms and angiosperms. Pollen grains are male reproductive structures of seed plants. The transport of the male gametes (sperm) to the female gametes (eggs) where fertilization may occur is called pollination.

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