Large pollen grains are difficult to quantify accurately. In order to ensure none have escaped, the anther must be removed and preserved before it is fully mature, leaving the pollen grains somewhat fragile and cohesive. Any method of quantification requires that they be separated into discrete grains, a difficult process, in part, due to their immature state. A probe sonicator can effectively disperse pollen grains from an opened anther in a petri dish partially filled with water. If the grains are too large to readily remain in suspension they can be allowed to settle in the petri dish and then quantified. As long as the grains are uniformly distributed in the petri dish, a compound microscope can be used to count the pollen grains in a field of view, and the contents of multiple fields of view can be used to extrapolate the total number of pollen grains.
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Vol. 52 • No. 4