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Style of a Flower: Function & Variation

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  • 0:02 What Is a Style?
  • 0:45 Function
  • 2:28 Variation in Styles
  • 3:49 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor
Margaret Cunningham

Margaret has taught many Biology and Environmental Science courses and has Master's degrees in Environmental Science and Education.

Expert Contributor
Dawn Mills

Dawn has taught chemistry and forensic courses at the college level for 9 years. She has a PhD in Chemistry and is an author of peer reviewed publications in chemistry.

This lesson will explore the reproductive organ of the flower with a focus on the structure known as the style. The lesson will also focus on the function and variation in types of styles among different types of flowering plants.

What Is a Style?

What do you think of when you hear the word 'style'? Most people think of style as a distinctive way something is done, a manner of expression, or a unique sense of fashion. For flowering plants, style takes on a whole new meaning.

In plants, the style is a structure found within the flower. It is a long, slender stalk that connects the stigma and the ovary. The stigma is at the top of the style and is a sticky platform where pollen is deposited. The ovary is located at the bottom of the style and houses the plant's ovules, which contain the egg cells and supporting cells necessary for reproduction. When combined, these three structures - the stigma, style, and ovary - are referred to as the pistil.

Function

The pistil is the female reproductive organ of the flowering plant, and the three structures of the pistil work together to ensure fertilization and plant reproduction. First, pollen, which contains the male genetic information, lands on the stigma and is held in place due to the sticky surface. As the pollen grain germinates on the stigma, it creates a pollen tube, which it will use to burrow through the entire length of the style. The pollen tube grows out of the pollen grain and creates a tunnel from the stigma to the ovary.

When the pollen tube reaches the ovary, two sperm cells are released from the pollen grain and are able to travel from the pollen grain down to the ovary. The sperm then fertilize the egg that is waiting in the ovule. After fertilization, the ovule develops into the seed or fruit of the plant and if uneaten, results in the creation of another plant of the same species.

The style is very important during the fertilization process because not only is it the location where the pollen tube forms, but it is also involved in stopping incompatible pollen from penetrating the ovary. When the pollen tube starts to extend within the style, genetic information is exchanged between the pollen and the plant. At this time, the plant also creates a toxin. If the pollen is incompatible due to being from a different species or being too closely related, thus resulting in inbreeding, the plant will release the toxin to stop the growth of the pollen tube. If the pollen is compatible, the plant will sequester, or isolate, the toxin so that it does not stop the growth of the pollen tube. So, the style is the location where the compatibility is checked and where the decision is made about whether the pollen that lands on the flower will be permitted to fertilize the plant.

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Additional Activities

Materials

Alstroemeria or similar flower (available from store or garden)

Scissors

Paper

Pen or marker

Clear packing tape

Methods

This activity will incorporate the dissection of a flower in order to understand its components, with special attention to the pistil and style sections. Refer to the image below if you are unfamiliar with any of the terms.

1. Write the name of the flower you obtained at the top of the paper.

2. Remove the sepals from the base surrounding the flower and tape them to your sheet of paper. Add an appropriate label.

3. Remove the petals of the flower and tape them on the paper. Add an appropriate label.

4. Remove the stamen of the flower and tape them on the paper. Add an appropriate label.

5. Remove the pistil of the flower and tape them on the paper.

6. Label the different portions of the pistil, to include the style, stigma and ovary.

Optional- Remove a portion of the stem and a leaf. Tape them on the paper and add an appropriate label.


Parts of a Flower


Questions

1. What portions of the flower is the style in between?

2. What is the function or purpose of the style?

3. Where is pollen deposited?

4. Is the style of the flower represented as male or female?

Solutions

1. the stigma and ovary

2. connects the stigma and ovary which are involved in reproduction

3. stigma

4. female

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