Cells to systems > reproduction

This practical involves fine handling of plant material, and a complex multi-stage process of staining to prepare microscope slides. It also involves sophisticated interpretation of those slides. For students who have grasped the stages of meiosis, it would provide a valuable test of understanding. For students who are struggling to follow the main stages of the process, it may be confusing.

Students often complain that plants are boring, and they don’t do anything quickly. Pollen tube growth is a surprisingly rapid process in certain conditions, and the pace of growth is measurable under a microscope during the course of a (double) lesson. Simple observations of the diversity of pollen grains can lead to discussions about allergic reactions to different pollens, and to mechanisms ensuring fertilisation of ovules by pollen from the correct species.