What is it about?
Desiccation of pollen grains induces their infolding, but a special mechanical design of the grains is required in order for them to close regularly and fully. The paper examines the role of the elastic inhomogeneity of the pollen grains in infolding, in particular the shape, softness and the number of the soft regions in the pollen wall called apertures. It is shown that the pollen with larger number of apertures requires a more precise tuning of the elastic parameters in order to close regularly (the grains with smaller number of apertures close more robustly), although it has the advantage of germinating with larger probability. The high abundance of grains with three apertures may possibly be an evolutionary compromise between these two opposing requirements.
Photo by Łukasz Rawa on Unsplash
Why is it important?
Although the diversity of pollen grains is huge, our study is an attempt to to determine certain mechanical characteristics which may be common to a large number of species. Such a comparison and distillation should also shed some light on the evolution of pollen. The results could also be important for the design of inhomogeneous elastic shells which respond with a programmed deformation to the changes in their surrounding. Such shells could perhaps be used for the encapsulation of (microscopic) matter and drug delivery. In contrast to homogeneous shells which resist external pressure all up to the point of catastrophic failure, the inhomogeneous shells can be designed to respond continuously and to deform in a desired manner, depending on the pattern of elastic inhomogeneity - the soft regions can effectively guide the infolding of such shells.
Read the Original
This page is a summary of: Mechanical design of apertures and the infolding of pollen grain, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, October 2020, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2011084117.
You can read the full text:
Mehanički dizajn peludnih apertura
Ovo je popularni i bogato ilustrirani sažetak našeg rada na hrvatskom jeziku. This is a popular and richly illustrated description of our work in Croatian.
Mechanical design of pollen apertures
Richly illustrated and widely readable summary of the research.
Mehanična zasnova apertur peloda
O delu Božiča in Šibra v slovenščini. A short and nontechnical description of the article in Slovene.
Mechanical design of apertures and the infolding of pollen grain - YouTube video
A narrated YouTube video (in English) with a short and nontechnical description of our work.
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