Pollen Development in Mormon’s Tea, Ephedra americana (Gnetales)
Allison S. Doores
Dr. Jeffrey M. Osborn, Faculty Mentor
Ephedra americana, or Mormon’s Tea, has been widely used in weight loss and energy-boosting supplements, although the US Food and Drug Administration has recently banned the use of such products. Ephedra is a member of the exotic group of plants known as the Gnetales. The systematic relationships of these gymnosperms have been the subject of many studies, and some indicate that Gnetales are closely related to flowering plants. Although several investigations have focused on the mature pollen of Ephedra, little is known about pollen development. The objective of this research was to comparatively study pollen ontogeny of Ephedra americana. Light, scanning electron, and transmission electron microscopy were used, and all major developmental stages have been documented, including the microspore mother cell, tetrad, free microspore, and mature stages. Some key characters examined include tetrad arrangement, pollen grain size, surface ornamentation, pollen wall infrastructure, and pollen wall thickness.
Keywords: Ephedra, pollen, Gnetales, pollen development, Mormon's Tea, gymnosperm
Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Location: VH 1010