Jon Monroe monroejd at
Tue Nov 3 11:21:44 EST 1998

>I just made up this statement.  Is it true?  If true, can it be improved?
>I'm shooting for an intro botany course.
>"Pollen from wind-pollinated angiosperms is a major cause of allergies
>because wind is a non-specific pollinator and therefore the specificity of
>pollen/stigma interaction is carried by protienaceous "recognition factors"
>on the surface of the pollen grain.  These factors cause an allergic
>reaction when they come into contact with human mucus membranes in the nose
>and eyes."


Dan Cosgrove et al. discovered that pollen allergens are actually wall
loosening expansins involved in helping to create the passageway between
stigma cells for pollen tip growth (see a recent review in Plant Physiology
118: 333).  If that is true, then they probably don't have anything to do
with recognition.  Since all pollen probably has expansins, I would predict
that pollen from insect pollinated plants is also allergenic.  Since it is
sticky (in order to stick to insects) is doesn't ever get the chance to get
up our noses like wind-blown pollen!


  Jonathan Monroe
  Associate Professor
  Department of Biology
  MSC 7801
  James Madison University
  Harrisonburg, VA 22807
  voice:  540-568-6649 (office)
          540-568-6045 (lab)
  fax:    540-568-3333
  e-mail: monroejd at

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