Pollination is a process in which pollen is transferred to the female reproductive organs of seed plants, thereby enabling fertilizationand reproduction through growth of the pollen tube and eventual release of sperm. Both gymnosperms and angiospermsundergo pollination, although the mechanism for angiosperms is much faster and more complex.
In spite of a common perception that pollen grains are gametes, like the sperm cells of animals, this is incorrect; pollination is an event in the alternation of generations. Each pollen grain is a male haploid gametophyte, adapted to being transported to the femalegametophyte, where it can effect fertilization by producing the male gamete (or gametes), in the process of double fertilization).
A successful angiosperm pollen grain (gametophyte) containing the male gametesis transported to the stigma, where it germinates and its pollen tube grows down the style to the ovary. Its two gametes travel down the tube to where the gametophyte(s) containing the female gametes are held within the carpel. One nucleus fuses with thepolar bodies to produce the endosperm tissues, and the other with the ovule to produce the embryo Hence the term: "double fertilization".
In gymnosperms, the ovule is not contained in a carpel, but exposed on the surface of a dedicated support organ, such as the scale of a cone, so that the penetration of carpel tissue is unnecessary. Details of the process vary according to the division of gymnosperms in question.
The receptive part of the carpel is called astigma in the flowers of angiosperms. The receptive part of the gymnosperm ovule is called the micropyle. Pollination is a necessary step in the reproduction of flowering plants, resulting in the production of offspring that are genetically diverse.
The study of pollination brings together many disciplines, such as botany, horticulture,entomology, and ecology. The pollination process as an interaction between flower andpollen vector was first addressed in the 18th century by Christian Konrad Sprengel. It is important in horticulture and agriculture, because fruiting is dependent on fertilization: the result of pollination. The study of pollination by insects is known asanthecology.