Presence of the anther gland is a key feature in pollination of the early-branching papilionoids Dipteryx alata and Pterodon pubescens (Leguminosae)

Plant Biol (Stuttg). 2019 Nov;21(6):1016-1023. doi: 10.1111/plb.13020. Epub 2019 Jul 16.


The presence of glandular appendages in the anthers is a rare condition in angiosperms. In Leguminosae it occurs in species of the Mimosoid clade and in early-branching clades of papilionoids such as Dipterygeae. In Dipterygeae such appendages surprisingly exhibit a secretory cavity instead of secretory emergences as is the case for the Mimosoid clade. Thus, the objective of this study was to elucidate the function of anther glands in Dipteryx alata and Pterodon pubescens, species in the Dipterygeae clade that exhibit a pollen release mechanism that is intermediate between the explosive and valvular types. Flower buds and flowers were processed for surface, anatomical, histochemical and ultrastructural analyses. Anther glands consist of a cavity secreting sticky substances (oleoresins and polysaccharides) that play a key role during the flower's lifespan by aggregating pollen grains and attaching them to the floral visitor's body. Other floral features that are important for understanding the pollen release mechanism that is intermediate between the valvular and the explosive types are: (i) keel petals intertwined with tector trichomes; (ii) glandular appendages in the abaxial and lateral sepals and in petals composed of secretory ducts; and (iii) a continuous secretion process of the anther glands followed by an asynchronous dehiscence of anthers. The well-adapted papilionoid flag blossom with anther glands and keel petals intertwined with trichomes provided the foundation for a successful canalisation toward a pollen release mechanism intermediate between the explosive and valvular types inside early-branching papilionoids.

Keywords: Anatomy; anther; secretion; secretory structure; surface analysis.

MeSH terms

  • Dipteryx / metabolism
  • Dipteryx / physiology
  • Fabaceae / metabolism
  • Fabaceae / physiology*
  • Flowers / metabolism
  • Flowers / physiology*
  • Plant Extracts / metabolism
  • Pollination / physiology*
  • Polysaccharides / metabolism


  • Plant Extracts
  • Polysaccharides
  • oleoresins