• The results of palyno-morphological investigations of 38 species and 1 variation of the genus Cuscuta L. were presented.
  • Analysis of pollen characteristics revealed that the length and number of colpi, as well as the exine ornamentation, can be regarded as a diagnostic.
  • Using SEM, 3 main types of exine ornamentation were also identified: perforate, foveolate and reticulate (the last one often in combination with echinae).
The main objective of this research was to conduct a comparative pollen morphological analysis of some representatives of the genus Cuscuta in relation to taxonomy. Investigations of 38 species and 1 variation revealed that not only the number, but the colpi length, as well as the exine ornamentation (at the SEM level), can be regarded as a diagnostic feature. For all the taxa studied, the common zonocolpate type of pollen was observed, represented by three variations: I) colpi long; II) colpi of medium length; III) colpi short. In combination with colpi length, variations in the number of colpi were also identified, such as: I) 3(4)-zonocolpate pollen grains with long colpi (in most of the species studied from subgenera Grammica and Cuscuta, as well as in C. monogyna from the subgenus Monogynella); II) 4(3)-zonocolpate pollen grains, with long colpi (C. cristata from subgenus Grammica); III) 3-zonocolpate pollen grains both with long colpi and colpi of medium length (C. abyssinica from subgenus Cuscuta and C. africana, C. angulata from subgenus Pachystigma); IV) 3-zonocolpate pollen grains with colpi of medium length were noted for species from all four subgenera (C. cassytoides, C. lupuliformis from subgenus Monogynella, C. kotschyana from subgenus Cuscuta, C. nitida from subgenus Pachystigma and C. jalapensis, C. rostrata, C. suaveolens from subgenus Grammica); V) 3–4- or 4-zonocolpate, with short colpi (C. lehmanniana and C. gigantea from subgenus Monogynella respectively); VI) 5–6-zonocolpate, with short colpi (C. reflexa from subgenus Monogynella). Using SEM, three main types of exine ornamentation were also identified: perforate, foveolate and reticulate. The last type in the vast majority of the cases was presented in combination with echinae (rarely with spines or granules). The data revealed that the presence of the significant similarity of palyno-morphological characteristics in representatives of the subgenera Cuscuta, Pachystigma and Grammica, with the exception of the species Lepidanche adpressa (syn. C. compacta), makes it difficult to create an identification key at the level of individual subgenera. Pollen features can be most clearly used only to distinguish the subgenus Monoginella, reflecting its certain isolation within the entire Cuscuta genus. The presence of a highly specialized reticulate exine ornamentation in Lepidanche adpressa (syn. C. compacta), not identified for the pollen of any of the studied taxa of the subgenus Grammica, indicates a significant proximity of this species to the subgenus Monogynella. For the species C. reflexa, the obtained palyno-morphological data are consistent with the previous opinion about the separation of this species, as well as its more advanced position within the genus Cuscuta.
The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
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