Define The Term Pollination? Differentiate Between Self-Pollination and Cross-Pollination. What is the significance of pollination?


Pollination is a vital process that is essential to the reproduction of flowering plants. It involves the transfer of pollen grains from the male reproductive organ (anther) to the female reproductive organ (stigma) of a flower. This transfer can occur within the same flower (self-pollination) or between different flowers (cross-pollination). In this article, we will define the term pollination, differentiate between self-pollination and cross-pollination, and discuss the significance of pollination.

Definition of Pollination

Pollination is the process by which pollen grains are transferred from the anther of a flower to the stigma of the same or another flower, resulting in the fertilization of the ovules and the production of seeds. The transfer of pollen can occur through various agents such as wind, water, animals, and insects. However, the most common and efficient agent of pollination is insects.

Differentiating between Self-Pollination and Cross-Pollination


Self-pollination occurs when the pollen from the anther of a flower is transferred to the stigma of the same flower or a different flower on the same plant. This process does not require the assistance of any external agent such as insects, wind, or animals. In some plants, the male and female reproductive organs are located in the same flower, while in others, they are located in different flowers on the same plant.

Self-pollination can occur through various mechanisms such as gravity, vibration, or the growth of the pollen tube. It is a reliable method of reproduction for plants that live in environments where external pollinators are scarce, or when the flowers are inconspicuous or lack attractive features that attract pollinators.


Firstly, it ensures that the offspring will inherit the genetic traits of the parent plant, resulting in a high degree of uniformity.

Secondly, it increases the chances of successful fertilization and seed production. Finally, it allows plants to reproduce even in the absence of pollinators.


Cross-pollination occurs when the pollen from the anther of a flower is transferred to the stigma of a flower on a different plant of the same or a different species. This process requires the assistance of external agents such as wind, water, animals, or insects to transfer the pollen grains.

Cross-pollination has several advantages over self-pollination. Firstly, it increases the genetic diversity of the offspring, resulting in greater adaptability and resilience to changing environmental conditions.

Secondly, it ensures the exchange of genetic material between different populations and species, leading to the formation of new hybrids and the evolution of new species. Finally, it allows plants to spread their genetic material over a larger geographical area, increasing their chances of survival and success.

Significance of Pollination

Pollination is an essential process that plays a crucial role in the reproduction and survival of flowering plants. It has several ecological, agricultural, and economic benefits that are crucial to human well-being.

Ecological Benefits

Pollination is vital for maintaining the balance of ecosystems and the biodiversity of the planet. It is estimated that over 80% of all flowering plants depend on pollinators for reproduction, and over 30% of the world's crops are dependent on pollinators for production. Pollinators such as bees, butterflies, birds, and bats play a critical role in the pollination of these plants, ensuring their survival and propagation.

Pollination also helps in the production of fruits, nuts, and seeds, which are important food sources for many animals and humans. The fruits and seeds produced by flowering plants serve as a source of food for birds, mammals, and insects, helping to maintain the balance of the ecosystem and promoting biodiversity.

Agricultural Benefits

Pollination is essential for the production of many agricultural crops, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, and oilseeds. Crops such as almonds, apples, blueberries, cherries, melons, peaches, pumpkins, squash, and strawberries rely heavily on pollinators for their production.

Pollinators play a critical role in the pollination of these crops, and their decline could have severe economic and social consequences. According to the United Nations, the value of pollination services provided by insects is estimated at $235-577 billion annually, representing approximately 10% of the world's food production.

The decline in pollinator populations, primarily due to habitat loss, pesticide use, and climate change, has become a significant concern for agriculture worldwide. To mitigate this problem, farmers are adopting various strategies to promote pollinator-friendly habitats, including planting wildflowers, establishing hedgerows, and reducing pesticide use.

Economic Benefits

Pollination has significant economic benefits for both developed and developing countries. The commercial value of pollinated crops, including fruits, nuts, and vegetables, is estimated at $200 billion annually.

In addition to this, pollinators also play a crucial role in the production of many non-food crops, such as cotton, which is an essential cash crop in many developing countries. Pollination increases the yield and quality of cotton, leading to higher profits for farmers and increased economic growth for the country.


In conclusion, pollination is a vital process that plays a crucial role in the reproduction, survival, and well-being of flowering plants, ecosystems, and humans. Self-pollination and cross-pollination are two different mechanisms by which plants reproduce, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

Pollinators such as bees, butterflies, birds, and bats are crucial to the process of pollination and play a critical role in the production of many agricultural and non-agricultural crops. The decline in pollinator populations is a significant concern for agriculture and the environment, and measures must be taken to conserve and protect these important species.

Overall, pollination is a fascinating and essential process that deserves greater attention and appreciation for its ecological, agricultural, and economic benefits. By understanding the importance of pollination, we can take steps to protect and preserve the pollinators and the vital role they play in our ecosystems and society.

Updated on: 13-Apr-2023


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