Pollen at a Glance 1

Hi, I am Nirmala, an international student from Nepal. I always had a dream of having an international degree. Fortunately, I ended up at UiB as a biology student which has somewhat  laid the foundation for my dream to come true.

Studying animals and their behaviours has been my passion since the bachelor. I am in my master 3rd semester and  have learned several things about animals and their behaviors up until now. Rest of the semester, I was planning to do something different and new. Right then, Bio299 came as an opportunity for me to choose my own project. I was thrilled. I contacted Anne, a professor at Bio, to allow me to do pollen analysis of different Sorbus species and associates. She, along with her team, had already collected flowers of the sample plant which made my work even more convenient. We scheduled dates and times for lab work, and from week 6, I started the microscopic analysis of pollen grains. On the first day, I learned the procedure of work and finished the analysis of 100 pollen grains of Aria edulis (quite an exciting day!). But on the 2nd day, we realized that our measurement was not correct because of some technical errors. As we all know, every mistake has a new lesson to teach!. After learning our lesson, We sorted things out and started working the next day. I have spent quite a lot of time in the lab (yet to finish the lab work). Everyday, I am learning something new about pollen. Since I am naïve to this field, the simplest of things about pollen amazes me in the lab. I had never thought that a small anther can hold thousands of pollen grains of various structures!

As I have mentioned above, Sorbus is my sample species, which belongs to the Rosaceae family. Recently, the genus has been split into Sorbus, Hedlundia, and Aria. It has 13 species, 7 of which are endemic to Norway. These species shows variety in leaves and flowers but only have slight differences molecularly. So, I found it interesting to see similarities as well as variations in pollen grains of these species. My main reason for doing this project was to learn about pollen grains and to know the significance of pollen analysis in the field of science. After joining this project, I learnt that pollen is not only for reproduction, it has quite a few other major significance too. Pollen analysis has proven to be a strong tool not only to study the plant communities through time but also to examine alterations in the past weather pattern and exploitation of the landscape. Moreover, pollen study is also useful in the exploration of resources in fossil fuels. Isn’t it fascinating!!

So far, I have completed 2/3rd of my lab work and have spotted some distinction in the structure of pollen grains. However, statistical analysis will tell us more about how distinct they are from each other. As soon as I am done with the lab work, I will start the statistical analysis. In the lab, my key role has been to analyze the pollen slides in a light microscope and measure the length and width of the pollen. But, I have also contributed in extracting the anthers from flowers, which then undergoes a chemical process and slides are prepared afterwards. Here, I have posted some pictures taken during lab work.

Sorbus flower in Sample bag

Sorbus with pollen



Microscopic Image of pollen





Pollen with measurement

At last, I want to say thank you to my supervisor for trusting and guiding a person with barely any knowledge of pollen. I am deeply grateful for that. Also, a few words to my fellow emerging biologist-Sometimes stepping out of the comfort zone and doing something extra could give the satisfaction you never had before, believe me! So, never hesitate to take challenges and face adversity with unwavering resolve.

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One thought on “Pollen at a Glance

  • Vigdis

    Nice blog, Nirmala! And you are right, doing errors (and learnign from them) is an important part of science. So you can already tick that off your list. I am excited to hear more about your results! Do we still have seven endmic species in this group after you have done your research….?