This paper describes the cytochemistry and ultrastructure of the developing tapetum in Primula obconica, a plant with a heteromorphic, sporophytic self-incompatibility system. The tapetum is of the secretory type and cytochemical tests have shown that when it breaks down proteinaceous (esterase) and lipidic components are deposited on the developing pollen grains. Acid phosphatase, a marker of gametophytic enzyme activity, is confined to the cytoplasm and intine of the developing pollen. Ultrastructural studies show that prior to its dissolution the tapetum undergoes a number of changes. In the early stages of development the tapetum is rich in ribosomes and rough endoplasmic reticulum, but following the breakdown of the tapetal cell wall the main components of the cytoplasm are densely staining spherical bodies surrounded by ribosomes and orbicular bodies, which appear to be confined to the cell periphery. As the cells break down, rod-like fibrils can be seen amongst the degenerate organelles and within the bacular cavities of the pollen. On dehiscence the pollen has a lipidic coating in addition to the fibrillar material in the pollen wall and the remnants of the tapetum can be seen adhering to the fibrous layer of the anther wall. Thus the mature, binucleate pollen of P. obconica is demonstrated to carry wall materials of sporophytic origin.

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