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Dr Corneile Minnaar, a pollination biologist from Stellenbosch University in South Africa has come up with a new idea of using quantum dots and 3D printed fluorescence box to track the fate of individual pollen grains. This novel, low-cost method could enable pollination biologists to track the whole pollination process from the first visit by a pollinator to its endpoint – either successfully transferred to another flower’s stigma or lost along the way.
Despite over two hundred years of detailed research on pollination, researchers do not know for sure where most of the microscopically tiny pollen grains actually land up once they leave flowers. "Plants produce massive amounts of pollen, but it looks like more than 90% of it never reaches stigmas," Minnaar said. "For the tiny fraction of pollen grains that make their way to stigmas, the journey is often unclear—which pollinators transferred the grains and from where?"
Minnaar - Challenge - PhD - Research - Department
Starting in 2015, Minnaar decided to take up the challenge through his PhD research in the Department of Botany and Zoology at Stellenbosch University (SU). He came upon the idea for a pollen-tracking method after reading an article on the use of quantum dots to track cancer cells in rats.
Quantum dots are very tiny semiconductor nanocrystals, behaves like artificial atoms. When exposed to UV light, quantum dots emit extremely bright light in a range of possible colours....
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