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Milkweed 'horns' may equal wins in reproduction battle

milkweed

South American milkweed appear to have developed hornlike extensions on their pollen sacs (shown). The horns may keep the pollen from being tangled with sex cells from other plants of the same species, a new suggests.

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Plants may be ripping a page right from bucks’ playbooks, developing hornlike weapons to improve their chances of reproduction.

Insects, birds and other animals spread plants' sex cells by picking up pollen and dropping it on other plants. South American milkweed appear to have developed hornlike extensions on their pollen sacs that may keep one plant’s pollen sacs from getting tangled and transported with pollen sacs from competing plants. The tactic could boost the chances that a single plant spreads only its pollen to another one, researchers suggest March 20 in New Phytologist.

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