Pollen Analysis in
Wheat and Other Small Grain Cereals

Why Measuring Wheat Pollen Quality?

Due to self-pollination characteristics, producing hybrid wheat continues to be economically challenging process. The solution lays in the spike architecture of the female lines, which must be highly receptive to pollen; as well as in the high pollen viability and pollen shed in male lines.

Therefore, the selection of male lines that can produce high-quality pollen in large numbers is crucial in ensuring effective pollination. Information on these parameters can further be used in optimizing the female to male ratio.

Traditional pollen analysis methods are lab-based and rely on staining or germination. In the case of wheat, these methods are difficult to apply due to the short lifetime of wheat pollen and its sensitive behavior in liquids, as the pollen grains tend to burst.

Thanks to our technology, you can now produce a reliable measurement of pollen viability and quantity, as well as:

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Characterize pollen quality of inbred lines and hybrids in breeding

·       Assess wheat pollen lifetime after shedding

·       Identify stress-resistant/ tolerant lines

Characterize male lines for hybrid seed production

·       Analyze pollen shedding dynamics

·       Quantify pollen shed per spike

Characterize Pollen Quality of Inbred Lines and Hybrids in Breeding

Assess wheat pollen lifetime after shedding

Wheat pollen is very short-lived. For hybrid wheat breeding, a high viability and long lifetime are necessary, as the pollen travels from the male to the female plant. Assessing the viability of different lines is an effective tool in selection of parental lines with high pollen quality for breeding.


Pollen Lifetime Determination

The diagram shows the viability decrease of shed wheat pollen, measured in 10 min intervals.

Identify Stress-Tolerant Wheat Lines

Wheat pollen is extremely sensitive to abiotic stress. Especially during flowering, high temperatures can negatively affect pollen quality, resulting in a reduced seed set.

Monitoring effects of heat and drought on pollen development, and mature pollen quality, allow to select the most stress-tolerant lines for breeding.


Characterize Male Lines for Hybrid Seed Production ​

Besides selecting male lines that produce high pollen viability and a large pollen quantity, the release over time is important in female and male synchronization.

Analyze Pollen Shedding Dynamics


Amphasys developed a method to quantify the pollen shed per area and time. Using our Pollen Analyzers and liquid pollen traps, you can determine pollen shed dynamics during the flowering period.


Pollen Shed Experiment

In a field trial, the pollen shed of two different wheat varieties was quantified throughout one day. The illustration shows a ten-hour pollen shed time-course in two-hour intervals. Grey dots represent the pollen counts from individual liquid traps, in the same field. The data of two varieties measured on two different days is shown.

a graph showing a pollen shed profile throughout one day

Pollen Trap Design

Quantify Wheat Pollen Shed Per Spike

Another approach for male line characterization is the quantification of the pollen shed of a whole spike. This allows to quantify the amount of pollen of all spikelets, serving as an additional parameter in the selection of the male lines.

Having a high pollen amount per spike is key for sufficient seed production. Amphasys developed a method for quantifying pollen shed from a single spike.

Just before flowering, the wheat spike is covered with a paper bag for seven days, as shown in the picture. Once the flowering is complete, the released pollen is collected and quantified.

Pollen Shed Per Spike

The image shows the spike bag (left) and the illustration (right) quantification of pollen shed per spike. Grey dots are quantifications from individual spikes. The different colors represent different wheat varieties.


a picture of a spike bag used to collect wheat pollen
a graph showing wheat pollen released from 1 spike for different wheat varieties

Would you like to learn more?

Sign up for our pollen expert blog and get insights into our latest research.


Check out the recording of our Amphacademy session where our product manager, Dr. Georg Roell, talks about pollen analysis applications for Wheat and other Small Grain Cereals.

Amphasys Pollen Analyzers

Amphasys Pollen Analyzers provide pollen quality metrics which enable you to improve your plant breeding and seed production processes:

The Ampha Z40 is a high-end laboratory device. It offers full flexibility for all research tasks and predefined templates for routine quality control.

The Ampha P20 is a mobile high-tech instrument for greenhouses and fields. With its easy handling and automated data analysis you get immediate results on site.

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