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Selection of male date palms (Phoenix dactylifera L.) at "Daouia" station (Oued Souf, Algeria).


The date palm is one of the oldest fruit trees [5,1,15]. The botanical name of date palm, Phoenix dactylifera L., is presumably derived from a Phoenician name "Phoenix" which means date palm, and "dactylifera" is derived from a Greek word daktulos meaning a finger, illustrating the fruits' form [25]. Dactylifera Phoenix is a palm in the genus Phoenix [37]. It belonging to the Arecaceae family represents an important economical and ecological culture for many countries [19,4,16]. Date Palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) is Monocot and it has been widely cultivated for its fruits [20]. It is dioecious [26], a diploid (2n=2x=36) [34], and the predicted genome size is estimated to be approximately between 550 and 650 Mbp [9]. This species is widely cultivated in Algeria and occupies a very important place in Sahara agriculture and the nation's economy. The male palm trees pose a particular problem; they generally result from seeds seldom cloned and often constitute unique genotypes. The quality of pollen varies from one palm tree to another [10].

The male palm trees locally named "Dokkars" are form heterogeneous populations. They are sometimes identified by the name of the female cultivar which resembles to it phenotypically [12]. The selection of good pollen is essential for the improvement of the yields and the production quality since obtaining the significant yields is related to the success of pollination and the wise choice of the pollinators [6]. Many investigations on the selection and evaluation of male date palms showed that these male palm trees are different in physiological parameters [2,8,40,23,3,24,27,28,22,39].

Within the frame of this work, carried out at the "Daouia" Agricultural Exploitation Company (Oued Souf, South-eastern Algeria), 80 male palm trees were investigated. Thus, 80 trees were divided into four groups resembling phenotypically to the four local varieties ("Deglet Nour", "Degla Beida", "Ghars" and "D'guel").

The qualitative characteristics according to the description of the farmers, and the quantitative features related to the pollen grains were studied. The aim of this study consists in defining, through the statistical analysis, the quality parameters of the palm trees and the pollen in order to characterize the male palm trees and select the best one.



The studied station:

The "Daouia" station is situated between 6[degrees]47'21" and 6[degrees]48'27" east longitude, and 33[degrees]22'6" and 33[degrees]20'46" north latitude. It is located between 4 Municipalities of El-Oued County (El Oued, Ouermes, Oued El Alennda and Robbah) with a surface area of more than 300 acre. It counts a total of 15866 female palm trees and 715 male palm trees (Fig. 1).


Accordingly, four types of male palm trees were studied. They were defined according to their morphological appearances approved by the station as follows: type "Deglet Nour" (DN) noted A, type "Degla Beida" (DB) noted B, type "Ghars" (GH) noted C and type "D'guel" (DG) noted D. Twenty trees of each type having roughly the same age were randomly sampled.


Characteristics of the palm trees:

The qualitative characteristics are obtained from the investigations of the station's farmers. However, three states are noted; well irrigated A, well maintained B; well irrigated and badly maintained C, and badly irrigated and badly maintained. For maturity, based on flowering time, males were grouped as follows; early flowering (during February), seasonal (mid flowering, during March) and late flowering (during April and sometimes extended till the first week of May). For the production of the spathes, 3 variables exist; many, medium and few. For the production of pollen, 3 groups were defined; rich, medium and poor [31]. For the pollen quality, it is determined according to its color and odor, and they are divided into 3 categories; good, fair and bad.

Study of pollen:

The matured spathes were collected from the male trees. For pollen extraction, the strands were cut off and spread on paper sheets to dry slowly during few days in clean rooms. Then, the pollen grains were separated from the flower parts by using fine sieves. Pollen samples were stored in vials and transported to the Palynology laboratory at the University Badji Mokhtar-Annaba [36].

Test of pollen viability:

Pollen viability was determined by staining techniques. A small amount of pollen grains was placed on slide and 1-2 drop of 1% acetocarmine solution was added. The slides were placed for few minutes on a hot plate. The viability of pollen grains was examined under a light microscope at 400x magnifying power (Model Zeiss). Pollen grains that stained red were considered viable, whereas the colorless pollen grains were considered non-viable, and then the percent viability was calculated on 300 grains of pollen [24].

The percentage of "in vitro" germination was defined as being the relationship between the number of germinated grains and the full number of grains to be germinated. The basic solution for the "in vitro" germination of pollen is that of [14]. This solution was modified and adapted to the pollen of date palms by [18]. It is called Modified Brewbaker and Kwack (MBK). The solution composition was as the following; 15% sucrose, 50 ppm [H.sub.3]P[O.sub.4], 300 ppm Ca[(N[O.sub.3]).sub.2], 200 ppm MgS[O.sub.4], 100 ppm KN[O.sub.3], 100ml of distilled water and 1% Agar [13,12].

Statistical analysis:

The XLStat version 2009 software for windows was used as follows:

1) Data were subjected to analysis of variance (ANOVA) and the significance levels (P < 0.05, P < 0.01 and P < 0.001) were determined by the F-test [28].

2) Linear correlation was performed to determine the association among physiological parameters by using Pearson correlation coefficient [30].

3) The factorial correspondence analysis allows to find causal links between the 80 "Dokkars", on one hand, and the 7 parameters studied (% of viable pollen grains, % of germination, localization, maturity, production of the spathes, production of pollen and quality according to the Farmers) on the other hand [35].


Tables 1, 2, 3 and 4 have the experimental results of the 7 parameters studied for the four types of male palm trees, "Deglet Nour" (A), "Degla Beida" (B), "Ghars" (C) and "D'guel" (D).

The pollen viability:

By the vital coloring:

The pollen viability measured by acetocarmine method is higher than 75% for all the palm trees. Several authors noted that the viability of the fresh pollen of date palm has been almost always higher than 75% [36,8,40,3,28,7,17].

By in vitro germination:

The germination percentage of the studied pollen grains varies between 45 and 95%. The pollen variation of "Deglet Nour", "Degla Beida", "Ghars" and "D'guel" types was 58-92%, 60.67- 94.67%, 54-91% and 45.6787.67%, respectively.

Table 5 shows the analysis of variance to only one parameter for the physiological characteristics of vital coloring and in vitro germination tests. It shows a significant difference (P < 0.05) between the four types. This confirms the results obtained by [2,8,3,22,23,24] who reported also a highly significant difference (P < 0.01) between the four types. Similar results were obtained by [27,39]. Table 5 shows also a very highly significant difference (P < 0.001) between these types. However, this result is noted by [40]. The differences in pollen viability among studied male types can be used to study the variability in their genetic characteristics. A positive correlation (r = 0.92) exist between the two tests of viability (table 6).

Descriptive Analyses of the male palm trees characteristics:

The figure 2 shows that the majority of the studied male palm trees are of good quality (60%), well irrigated and well maintained (42%), early (47%) and produce a high number of spathes (43%). Thus, 38% of these palm trees produce a low quantity of pollen and 36% of them produce a medium quantity. Nasr et al. [31] noticed that from the 601 male palm trees studied in Saudi Arabia, 46.06% produce pollen of fair quantity. The evaluation of the production of "Daouia" station allowed us to consider that the "Dokkars" flowering period is seldom extended until the month of May. This is the case in almost every oasis of the potential production zones of the date palms in the world [29,21,33].


From a positive side, the group "I" corresponds to the characteristics of mean pollen quality (Q2): medium percentage of viable pollen grains (Vp2 = 85-90%) and medium percentage of germinated pollen (G2= 65-75%). The male palm trees are well irrigated and badly maintained, seasonal (mid flowering) and produce a medium number of spathes and a medium quantity of pollen. The majority of them are of types "Deglet Nour" (26%), "Degla Beida" (26%) and "Ghars" (26%).

From a negative side, the group "II" corresponds to the characteristics of bad pollen quality (Q3): a very low percentage of viable pollen grains (Vp3 = 75-85%) and very low percentage of germinated pollen (G3= 4565%). The male palm trees are badly irrigated and badly maintained, late and produce a few of spathes and a poor quantity of pollen. Most of them are of type "D'guel" (42%).

From an intermediate side, the group "III" corresponds to the characteristics of good pollen quality (Q1): a very high percentage of viable pollen grains (Vp1 = 90-100%) and a very high percentage of germinated pollen (G1= 75-95%). This result is noticed by several authors who confirmed that the percentage of germination of good quality pollen is higher than 75% [32,7]. The male palm trees are well irrigated and well maintained, early and produce a great number of spathes and a great quantity of pollen. Most of them are of types "Deglet Nour" (37%) and "Degla Beida" (37%).

Figure 3 enables us to distinguish the male palm trees of bad quality (A2, A8, A9, A16, B8, B15, B17, B19, C2, C3, C4, C5, C7, C12, C15, C16, C18, C19, D1, D4, D7, D8, D9, D10, D12, D13, D14, D15, D18, D19 and D20), of mean quality (A3, A4, A10, A14, A18, B2, B3, B11, B14, B20, C1, C6, C9, C10, C14, D3, D6, D11 and D16) and of good quality (A1, A5, A6, A7, A11, A12, A13, A15, A17, A19, A20, B1, B4, B5, B6, B7, B9, B10, B12, B13, B16, B18, C8, C11, C13, C17, C20, D2, D5 and D17).

When the dominance of male date palms of types "Deglet Nour" and "Degla Beida" in the good group quality is more than the mean quality group. Thus, the FCA shows that most of the male palm trees of good quality are of types "Deglet Nour" and "Degla Beida", of mean quality are of type "Ghars" and of bad quality are of type "D'guel".

When the results of the statistical analysis were compared by FCA and the farmers' observations, a contradiction in the quality of pollens of the following trees were noted; A2, A3, A4, A8, A9, A16, B2, B3, B8, B11, B14, B15, B17, B19, B20, C3, C4, C10, C18 and D16.



The majority of the studied male palm trees are in good state for all the descriptive parameters held by farmers (well localized, early, and producing a great number of spathes and a good quality of pollen), except the pollen production parameter (a little or medium quantity of pollen is produced).

The estimation of the pollen viability revealed that the percentage of viable pollen grains oscillates between 75 and 100%. The percentage of germination of the good quality pollen is higher than 75%. The viability characteristics vary considerably from one type to another. Consequently, there is a high heterogeneity between the various types of male palm, and every one of them contains specific characteristics.

The factorial correspondence analysis shows that the selection of the best productive trees of good pollen is based primarily on six parameters; the very high percentage of viable pollen grains, the very high percentage of germination, a good irrigation and maintenance, precocity, production of a great number of spathes and a rich quantity of pollen. It shows a contradiction about the quality according to farmers on some male palm trees. Thus, the farmers' observations are not effective to evaluate pollen. For that, the quality parameters should be studied in laboratory for the confirmation or the invalidation; as in the case of pollen viability test studied in this work.

The final aim of the actual research is to select, on the level of "Daouia" station, the best male palm trees, which had presented a good genetic potential in order to multiply them vegetatively and eliminate the bad "Dokkars". Moreover, some palm trees of fair quality may give, in other climatic conditions, good pollen. For that, a confirming investigation is suggested to carry out this experimental work again in the coming seasons in order to recognize and determine the stable parameters and consider them as quality indicators.


Article history:

Received 11 October 2014

Received in revised form 21 November 2014

Accepted 25 December 2014

Available online 16 January 2015


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(1) Bilal Benamor, (1) Larbi Boughediri and (2) Adel Chala

(1) Laboratory of Plant Biology and Environment, Department of Biology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Badji Mokhtar, P. O. Box 12 Annaba 23000, Algeria.

(2) Laboratory of Applied Mathematics, Department of Mathematics, Faculty of Sciences, University of Mohammed Khider, P.O. Box 145 Biskra 07000, Algeria.

Corresponding Author: Bilal Benamor. Department of Biology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Badji Mokhtar, P.O. Box 12. Annaba 23000. Algeria.

Tel: +213666729206; E-mail:
Table 1: Results of pollen viability and the
descriptive characteristics of palm trees type
"Deglet Nour".

Males     % of viable      % of       Localization
            pollen      germination

A1           93.67          84             A
A2           84.67          64             A
A3            89            71             A
A4           89.67          74             B
A5            92            76             A
A6           98.33         85.67           B
A7           99.33         81.33           A
A8           83.67          58             C
A9           84.33          61             A
A10          89.33          69             B
A11           96            82             C
A12           97           86.33           C
A13          95.33         80.67           A
A14          88.33          68             B
A15           93           79.33           A
A16           84            60             A
A17          94.33         78.33           C
A18           88           66.67           C
A19          96.33          90             B
A20           94            92             C

Average   91.52         75.37
          [+ or -]      [+ or -]
          4.97          10.23

Males     Maturity   Production   Production   Quality
                     of spathes   of pollen

A1          Late        Few          Rich       Good
A2          Late        Many        Medium      Good
A3          Late        Many         Poor       Good
A4         Early        Many         Poor       Good
A5          Late        Many         Rich       Good
A6          Late        Many         Poor       Good
A7         Early       Medium       Medium      Good
A8         Early        Many         Poor       Good
A9          Late        Few         Medium      Good
A10         Late       Medium       Medium      Fair
A11         Late        Many        Medium      Good
A12        Early        Many         Rich       Good
A13        Early        Few         Medium      Good
A14       Seasonal      Many        Medium      Fair
A15        Early        Many         Poor       Good
A16        Early        Many         Rich       Good
A17        Early        Few         Medium      Good
A18         Late       Medium       Medium      Fair
A19        Early        Few          Rich       Good
A20        Early       Medium        Rich       Good


Table 2: Results of pollen viability and the
descriptive characteristics of palm trees type
"Degla Beida".

Males      % of viable       % of       Localization
          pollen grains   germination
B1            96.33           87             A
B2            87.67           67             B
B3            88.33           73             A
B4             99             91             B
B5            95.67          85.33           A
B6            98.67          92.67           B
B7            97.67          94.67           C
B8             84             63             A
B9            99.67           80             C
B10            98            88.33           A
B11           88.67          70.33           C
B12           92.33           82             A
B13           93.67           86             C
B14           89.67          71.67           B
B15           84.67          61.33           A
B16           99.33           89             C
B17           84.33          60.67           C
B18           98.33          93.67           A
B19           83.67          63.67           A
B20           89.33          74.67           B

Average       92.45          78.75
            [+ or -]       [+ or -]
              5.84           11.71

Males     Maturity   Production of   Production of   Quality
                        spathes         pollen
B1         Early        Medium           Rich         Good
B2         Early        Medium          Medium        Good
B3         Early          Few           Medium        Good
B4         Early         Many            Rich         Good
B5        Seasonal       Many            Rich         Good
B6        Seasonal       Many           Medium        Good
B7          Late         Many            Rich         Good
B8         Early         Many            Poor         Good
B9        Seasonal       Many            Poor         Good
B10        Early          Few            Poor         Good
B11        Early         Many           Medium        Good
B12        Early         Many            Rich         Good
B13        Early         Many            Poor         Good
B14        Early         Many           Medium        Good
B15        Early        Medium           Poor         Good
B16        Early          Few            Rich         Good
B17       Seasonal        Few            Rich         Fair
B18         Late         Many           Medium        Good
B19       Seasonal       Many            Poor         Good
B20        Early          Few            Poor         Good


Table 3: Results of pollen viability and the
descriptive characteristics of palm trees type

Males      % of viable       % of       Localization
          pollen grains   germination

C1             88            70.33           B
C2             81            59.67           C
C3            83.67           61             C
C4            84.33           62             A
C5             83            63.33           A
C6            88.67          72.67           A
C7            80.67           64             A
C8            95.33           87             A
C9             87             72             C
C10           88.33          73.67           B
C11            91            86.33           A
C12            84             59             C
C13            97            90.33           C
C14            86            67.33           B
C15            82            57.33           B
C16           80.33           58             B
C17            96            85.67           C
C18           81.33           54             A
C19           82.33           56             C
C20            94             91             B

Average       86.70          69.53
            [+ or -]       [+ or -]
              5.44           12.34

Males     Maturity   Production   Production    Quality
                     of spathes   of pollen

C1        Seasonal      Many         Poor        Fair
C2         Early        Few          Poor         Bad
C3        Seasonal     Medium        Poor        Fair
C4         Early        Few          Rich        Good
C5        Seasonal      Few          Poor         Bad
C6         Early       Medium       Medium       Fair
C7          Late        Many         Poor         Bad
C8         Early        Few          Poor        Good
C9        Seasonal      Few         Medium       Fair
C10        Early       Medium        Rich        Good
C11        Early       Medium        Poor        Good
C12         Late        Few         Medium        Bad
C13        Early        Many        Medium       Good
C14       Seasonal     Medium       Medium       Fair
C15         Late        Few          Poor         Bad
C16         Late       Medium        Poor         Bad
C17        Early       Medium       Medium       Good
C18        Early        Many        Medium       Good
C19        Early        Many        Medium        Bad
C20        Early        Many         Poor        Good


Table 4: Results of pollen viability and the
descriptive characteristics of palm trees type

Males      % of viable       % of       Localization
          pollen grains   germination

D1            75.67           51             B
D2            96.33           79             A
D3             87             69             B
D4            79.67          48.33           C
D5             99            87.67           A
D6             89             67             C
D7             92             81             C
D8             78             49             A
D9             76            47.67           A
D10            77             63             A
D11           86.33          71.33           A
D12           75.33           57             C
D13           76.67          64.33           A
D14           77.67          55.33           C
D15           78.33           59             A
D16            88             72             B
D17            91             82             A
D18            79             60             C
D19           81.33          46.33           B
D20            82            45.67           C
Average       83.27          62.78
            [+ or -]       [+ or -]
              7,29           13,06

Males     Maturity   Production   Production   Quality
                     of spathes   of pollen

D1          Late        Few         Medium       Bad
D2         Early        Few          Rich       Good
D3          Late       Medium        Rich       Fair
D4         Early        Few         Medium       Bad
D5        Seasonal      Many        Medium      Good
D6        Seasonal     Medium       Medium      Fair
D7        Seasonal      Few          Rich        Bad
D8          Late        Many         Rich        Bad
D9         Early        Few          Poor        Bad
D10         Late        Few          Poor        Bad
D11       Seasonal     Medium        Poor       Fair
D12         Late        Many         Poor        Bad
D13         Late       Medium        Rich        Bad
D14         Late       Medium        Poor        Bad
D15       Seasonal      Few         Medium       Bad
D16       Seasonal      Many         Rich       Good
D17        Early        Many        Medium      Good
D18         Late        Few          Poor        Bad
D19         Late        Many         Poor        Bad
D20       Seasonal      Few          Poor        Bad

Table 5: Analysis of variance of viability

Parameters    Source of variations   D.f.   Mean square

% of viable           Male            3       368.89
pollen               Error            76       35.39
grains               Total            79

% of                  Male            3       982.19
germination          Error            76      141.19
                     Total            79

Parameters      F         F         F         P

% of viable   *10.43   **10.43   ***10.43   0.000

% of          *6.96    **6.96    ***6.96    0.000

*: significant at 5%.
**: significant at 1%.
***: significant at 0.1%.

Table 6: Pearson's correlation coefficient of the
physiological parameters.

Parameters                   % of viable pollen    % of germination

% of viable pollen grains    1                     0.92
% of germination             0.92                  1

Table 7: Viability parameters and the descriptive
characters of the male palm trees subjected to the
factorial correspondence analysis.

Parameters      N[degrees]   The     Definition    Interval
                of created   names    of the        of the
                 classes              classes      classes

% of viable         3        Vp1      very high    (90-100%)
pollen grains                Vp2        Fair        (85-90%)
                             Vp3      very low      (75-85%)

% of "in            3         G1      very high     (75-95%)
vitro"                        G2        Fair        (65-75%)
germination                   G3      very low      (45-65%)

Localization        3        Lo1          A
of males                     Lo2          B
                             Lo3          C

Maturity            3         M1        Early
of males                      M2      Seasonal
                              M3        Late

Spathes             3        Ps1        Many
Production                   Ps2       Medium
                             Ps3         Few

Pollen              3        Pp1        Rich
production                   Pp2       Medium
                             Pp3        Poor

Pollen              3         Q1        Good
Quality                       Q2        Fair
                              Q3         Bad
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Author:Benamor, Bilal; Boughediri, Larbi; Chala, Adel
Publication:Advances in Environmental Biology
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:6ALGE
Date:Dec 1, 2014
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