• Cucurbita pepo;
  • Cucurbitaceae;
  • male fertility;
  • microgametophyte;
  • mycorrhiza;
  • soil fertility;
  • zucchini


The effects of soil fertility (two levels of soil nitrogen and two levels of soil phosphorus) and mycorrhizal infection on pollen production and pollen grain size were studied in two cultivars of the common zucchini (Cucurbita pepo). Overall, soil fertility and mycorrhizal infection had significant effects on traits affecting the male function of plants (staminate flower production, pollen production per flower and pollen grain size). There were also differences between the cultivars for these male traits in all three experiments. In addition, pollen grain size decreased toward the end of the growing season. In the mycorrhiza experiment, both phosphate concentration per pollen grain and total phosphate content per anther were greater but not significantly greater in the mycorrhizal plants than in the non-mycorrhizal plants. A significant negative relationship between pollen production and pollen grain size was found in the mycorrhiza and soil phosphorus experiments, indicating that there was a trade-off between pollen production and pollen size. This study is the first to show that mycorrhizal infection has an effect on male function (pollen production and size) in addition to the well-documented effects on female function (fruit/seed production and size).