Is Wheat Pollen Storage Still the Holy Grail?

Wheat is one of the most widely grown crops in the world. It plays an important role in feeding a growing global population. Researchers around the world are working on the hybridization of wheat. 

One important aspect when it comes to hybrid wheat is the fact that wheat is a self-pollinated species. For hybrid seed production, the male and female inbred lines are grown normally in stripes and only the female lines are harvested. To optimize seed production, a high female to male ratio is aspired. This requires the selection of an inbred male donor with a large pollen production and high viability to secure the fertilization.

Wheat Pollen Storage - It's a Challenge!

It is no secret that wheat pollen is very short-lived. Literature indicates that the survival time of pollen after shedding is usually between 30 minutes and three hours. 

This presents a major challenge for plant breeders when it comes to controlling pollination in hybrid wheat breeding and production. Hybrid wheat breeding requires high viability and long pollen life, as pollen must migrate from the male to the female plant. Several attempts to establish protocols for the successful storage of wheat pollen have unfortunately been unsuccessful to date.

Just recently, a group of researchers of the Leibnitz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research has evaluated the effects of fast-drying and cooling on the storability of wheat pollen. With the aim of identifying a new practical method for longer storage of wheat pollen without loss of pollen viability [1].

Unfortunately, the results of the study only confirmed the fact, that long-term wheat pollen storage is still not efficient due its extreme sensitivity to the removal of water molecules and osmotic concentration.

Pollen Expert Blog on Wheat Pollen Analysis

In a previous blog article, Dr. Georg Roell highlites the important role of pollen in wheat breeding and hybrid wheat seed production. 

In his article, he provides a practical overview of three different methods for wheat pollen extraction. Furthermore, he shares his experience with wheat pollen lifetime and shares his insights on how to store wheat pollen just a little longer.

A Proactive Alternative: In-Field Pollen Analysis

Based on the feedback of our customers and our own experience with wheat pollen at Amphasys, we have developed a proactive approach to measure wheat pollen directly in the field. 

With the fully portable Ampha P20 Pollen Analyzer, wheat pollen can easily be measured directly in the field. Be it for the selection of male lines with high quantity and quality of pollen or to check the pollen of CMS lines in hybrid seed production.

[1] Impe et al. (2021). Impact of drying and cooling rate on the survival of the desiccation-sensitive wheat pollen. Plant Cell Reports.