Nicotiana tabacum follows the reproduction trend of plants that undergo sexual reproduction.  Sexual reproduction is when the genetic material from two parents is combined resulting in a new individual.  This whole process occurs at the top of each tobacco plant in the flowering region.

The stamen (see image) is the part of the flower that produces the male part that is used in reproduction, the pollen.  The pollen is a yellowish powder produced at the top of the stamen in a structure called an anther (see image) for more efficient dispersal when the time comes.  The female part of the plant is called the pistil (see image).  The pistil contains a structure called a stigma (see image) at its top which is where the pollen grain from another plant lands upon.  Sugar, which is produced by the stigma, is consumed by the pollen to grow a tube called the pollen tube.  This pollen tube that is now formed acts as the “yellow brick road” for the sperm to travel down and unite with an egg located in the ovary (see image).  This actual transfer of pollen from the anther of one plant to the stigma of another is called pollination. 

After fertilization has taken place, the single cell that has just been fertilized undergoes the process of mitosis resulting in a multi-cellular embryo that develops into a seed.  The ovary then dries up and eventually splits open to disperse the seeds into the environment to grow a new adult plant.  The flowers on the tobacco plant are colored specifically to attract certain insects to carry its pollen grains to other plants and allow for pollination to occur.  Today there are many degrees of genetic variation and controlled cross-fertilization with various types of tobacco in order to produce the desired variety for the specific purpose that it is grown for.  Many of the natural processes of pollination are altered in this aspect by controlling the various plants that pollinate with each other.

If you would like to see an in depth animation of this life cycle click here!

Now that we have explored the reproduction of tobacco, click here to view some fun facts about tobacco!

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Logan Van Hoof,  April 2011