Canadian journal of botany vol:79 issue:7 pages:757-766
Allergenic activity in the atmospheric aerosol of small particles in the size range of a few micrometres or less may play an important role in causing allergic reactions in the lower regions of the lungs, often seen in pollinosis. Orbicules (= Ubisch bodies) are small, mostly spherical granules of sporopollenin, which can occur on the radial and innermost tangential wall of secretory tapetum cells. In instances where orbicules of allergenic species are dispersed into the atmosphere, they may act as effective vectors of allergens. We investigated the presence and morphology of orbicules in 15 allergenic species using scanning electron microscopy. Orbicules were present in all species investigated of the families Betulaceae, Chenopodiaceae, Fagaceae, Poaceae, Polygonaceae, and Urticaceae. In the species of the Asteraceae and Oleaceae studied, orbicules were lacking. Almost all orbicules observed were spiny. Their mean diameters range from 0.342 to 1.130 mum. Orbicules can be part of the fraction of small particles in the size range of a few micrometres or less, emitted from the anthers. Our results clearly indicate that a thorough investigation of the sites of allergens across the whole anther is required to reveal whether or not these orbicules possess allergens.