Difference Between Pollination and Fertilization

People mostly think that pollination and fertilization are the same things but just have different names (not talking about the people who are already deep into biology). There are many differences between them which we need to acknowledge.

Before we get into our article first let's know what these terms individually mean and you will get little idea about what can possibly be the difference between these two terms. 

Difference between pollination and fertilization:

Pollination Fertilization
1. Pollination is transfer of pollen grains from anther to stigma Fertilization is fusion of male gametes
2. Pollination needs pollinators (agents) to transfer the pollen grains Fertilization does not require any agents to occur
3. Pollination takes place externally Fertilization takes place internally
4. Pollination is a physical process Fertilization is a genetic and biochemical process
5. Pollination leads to fertilization Fertilization leads to formation of seeds
6. Pollination takes place before fertilization Fertilization takes place after pollination
7. In pollination process there is no formation of pollen tube When fertilization takes place there is formation of pollen tube to fuse the male gametes with the egg apparatus
8. Pollination occurs only in flowering plants Fertilization occurs in all living organisms
9. Example of pollinators are wind, water, bats, birds, bees, small mammals, etc In fertilization no pollinators are involved

What is pollination ?

Reproduction in plants takes place by the help of pollination. Pollination is the process from where the pollen grains are transferred from the anther to stigma.

Types of pollination:

There are 2 types of pollination:

Self pollination:

As you know pollination requires transfer of pollen grains from anther to stigma but in self pollination it in not compulsory that it needs an agent to pollinate the pollen grains or it needs different genetic makeup, it can be a different flower on the same plant or the same flower and this phenomenon is called as self pollination or autogamy. This is an economic method because modifications are not required. There is least wastage of pollen grains and pure lines are maintained in the progeny.

When you say it is an economic method, that means this method doesn't require much money in order to pollinate it. It itself does the work of pollination. 

 Self pollination
Self pollination 

Self pollination takes place by two ways:


When the pollen grains are transferred from the anther to stigma of the same flower it is called as autogamy. The flowers which perform autogamy are bisexual. eg, Pea.


When the pollen grains are transferred from the anther to the stigma of another flower but on the same plant is called as geitonogamy. eg, Cucurbits.

Cross pollination:

When pollen grains are transferred from anther of a flower to the stigma of a totally different flower of another plant is called as cross pollination. Cross pollination is carried out by birdswindinsects etc. 

Cross pollination gives you variations and it is not economical as it needs modification. There is wastage of pollen grains and no pure lines can be maintained in the offspring when produced.

 Cross pollination
Cross pollination

Again, there are two ways cross pollination occurs by:


When pollen grains are transferred from anther of the flower onto the stigma of the another flower on a different plant but with same genetic makeup is called Xenogamy. eg, Papaya.


When transfer of pollen grains from the anther of a flower to the stigma of another flower which is on a different plant with no similar genetic makeupof the same species or variety is called as hybridization

What is fertilisation ?

When a female egg is fertilised in human beings or plants by the fusion of female and male gametes to form a zygote is called fertilisation.

 Fertilisation in plants
Fertilisation in plants

If you wish to know what does pollination lead to fertilisation click here


What are biotic agents ?
Ans: Living organisms which help in transfer of pollen grains from anther to stigma are called biotic agents. eg, birds, insects, bats etc.

What are abiotic agents ?
Ans: Non living factors that help in transfer of pollen grains from anther to stigma are called abiotic agents. eg, wind and water.

Why is pollination important in plants ?
Ans: Pollination is the first and essential step for reproduction, without it reproduction in plants cannot take place, hence pollination is important in plants.

What are the disadvantages of self pollination ?
Ans: Self pollination cannot give improved varieties like hybrids do, no new desirable traits can be inherited, if continued for generations it keeps making the offspring weaker and weaker.

What are the disadvantages of cross pollination ?
Ans: Cross pollination depends on the external factors, desirable traits are lost and undesirable traits are introduced in the offspring. 

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