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1.  Morphofunctional Traits and Pollination Mechanisms of Coronilla emerus L. Flowers (Fabaceae) 
The Scientific World Journal  2012;2012:381575.
It is accepted that the papilionaceous corolla of the Fabaceae evolved under the selective pressure of bee pollinators. Morphology and function of different parts of Coronilla emerus L. flowers were related to their role in the pollination mechanism. The corolla has a vexillum with red nectar lines, a keel hiding stamens and pistil, and two wing petals fasten to the keel with two notched folds. Pollinators land on the complex of keel and wings, trigger the protrusion of pollen and finally of the stigma from the keel tip. Data on pollen viability and stigma receptivity prove that flowers are proterandrous. The results of hand-pollination experiments confirmed that insects are fundamental to set seed. Interaction with pollinators allows not only the transport of pollen but also the rupture of the stigmatic cuticle, necessary to achieve both allogamy and autogamy. Field observations showed that Hymenoptera, Lepidoptera, and Diptera visited the flowers. Only some of the Hymenoptera landed on the flowers from the front and elicited pollination mechanisms. Most of the insects sucked the nectar from the back without any pollen transfer. Finally, morphological and functional characteristics of C. emerus flowers are discussed in terms of floral larceny and reduction in pollination efficiency.
PMCID: PMC3361249  PMID: 22666114
2.  Gloss, Colour and Grip: Multifunctional Epidermal Cell Shapes in Bee- and Bird-Pollinated Flowers 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e112013.
Flowers bear the function of filters supporting the attraction of pollinators as well as the deterrence of floral antagonists. The effect of epidermal cell shape on the visual display and tactile properties of flowers has been evaluated only recently. In this study we quantitatively measured epidermal cell shape, gloss and spectral reflectance of flowers pollinated by either bees or birds testing three hypotheses: The first two hypotheses imply that bee-pollinated flowers might benefit from rough surfaces on visually-active parts produced by conical epidermal cells, as they may enhance the colour signal of flowers as well as the grip on flowers for bees. In contrast, bird-pollinated flowers might benefit from flat surfaces produced by flat epidermal cells, by avoiding frequent visitation from non-pollinating bees due to a reduced colour signal, as birds do not rely on specific colour parameters while foraging. Moreover, flat petal surfaces in bird-pollinated flowers may hamper grip for bees that do not touch anthers and stigmas while consuming nectar and thus, are considered as nectar thieves. Beside this, the third hypothesis implies that those flower parts which are vulnerable to nectar robbing of bee- as well as bird-pollinated flowers benefit from flat epidermal cells, hampering grip for nectar robbing bees. Our comparative data show in fact that conical epidermal cells are restricted to visually-active parts of bee-pollinated flowers, whereas robbing-sensitive parts of bee-pollinated as well as the entire floral surface of bird-pollinated flowers possess on average flat epidermal cells. However, direct correlations between epidermal cell shape and colour parameters have not been found. Our results together with published experimental studies show that epidermal cell shape as a largely neglected flower trait might act as an important feature in pollinator attraction and avoidance of antagonists, and thus may contribute to the partitioning of flower-visitors.
PMCID: PMC4219824  PMID: 25369510
3.  Keel petal incision: a simple and efficient method for genetic crossing in Medicago truncatula 
Plant Methods  2014;10:11.
Genetic crossing is an essential tool in both forward and reverse genetic approaches to understand the biological functions of genes. For Medicago truncatula (barrel medic) various crossing techniques have been used which differ in the methods used to dissect the female parent’s unopened flower bud to remove immature anthers for prevention of self-pollination. Previously described methods including front, side or back incision methods may damage the flower bud, impeding successful fertilization and/or seed development because they may allow pollen to dislodge and floral organs to desiccate after crossing, all of which diminish the success rates of crossing.
We report the keel petal incision method for genetic crossing in M. truncatula ecotype R108 and demonstrate successful crosses with two other M. truncatula ecotypes, A17 and A20. In the method presented here, an incision is made along the central line of the keel petal from the bottom 1/3rd of the female parent’s flower bud to its distal end. This allows easy removal of anthers from the flower bud and access for cross-pollination. After pollination, the stigma and the deposited pollen from the male donor are covered by the keel petal, wing petals and standard petal, forming a natural pouch. The pouch prevents dislodging of deposited pollen from the stigma and protects the internal floral organs from drying out, without using cling-film or water-containing chambers to maintain a humid environment. The keel petal incision method showed an approximate 80% success rate in the M. truncatula R108 ecotype and also in other ecotypes including Jemalong A17 and A20.
Our keel petal incision protocol shows marked improvement over existing methods with respect to the ease of crossing and the percentage of successful crosses. Developed for the M. truncatula R108 ecotype, the protocol has been demonstrated with A17 and A20 ecotypes and is expected to work with other ecotypes. Investigators of varying experience have achieved genetic crosses in M. truncatula using this method.
PMCID: PMC4070640  PMID: 24966878
Legume; Genetic crossing; Barrel medic; Medicago truncatula; Artificial hybridization; Keel petal
4.  Sexual Dimorphism of Staminate- and Pistillate-Phase Flowers of Saponaria officinalis (Bouncing Bet) Affects Pollinator Behavior and Seed Set 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e93615.
The sequential separation of male and female function in flowers of dichogamous species allows for the evolution of differing morphologies that maximize fitness through seed siring and seed set. We examined staminate- and pistillate-phase flowers of protandrous Saponaria officinalis for dimorphism in floral traits and their effects on pollinator attraction and seed set. Pistillate-phase flowers have larger petals, greater mass, and are pinker in color, but due to a shape change, pistillate-phase flowers have smaller corolla diameters than staminate-phase flowers. There was no difference in nectar volume or sugar content one day after anthesis, and minimal evidence for UV nectar guide patterns in staminate- and pistillate-phase flowers. When presented with choice arrays, pollinators discriminated against pistillate-phase flowers based on their pink color. Finally, in an experimental garden, in 2012 there was a negative correlation between seed set of an open-pollinated, emasculated flower and pinkness (as measured by reflectance spectrometry) of a pistillate-phase flower on the same plant in plots covered with shade cloth. In 2013, clones of genotypes chosen from the 2012 plants that produced pinker flowers had lower seed set than those from genotypes with paler flowers. Lower seed set of pink genotypes was found in open-pollinated and hand-pollinated flowers, indicating the lower seed set might be due to other differences between pink and pale genotypes in addition to pollinator discrimination against pink flowers. In conclusion, staminate- and pistillate-phase flowers of S. officinalis are dimorphic in shape and color. Pollinators discriminate among flowers based on these differences, and individuals whose pistillate-phase flowers are most different in color from their staminate-phase flowers make fewer seeds. We suggest morphological studies of the two sex phases in dichogamous, hermaphroditic species can contribute to understanding the evolution of sexual dimorphism in plants without the confounding effects of genetic differences between separate male and female individuals.
PMCID: PMC3972141  PMID: 24690875
5.  Spatial variation in selection on corolla shape in a generalist plant is promoted by the preference patterns of its local pollinators 
An adaptive role of corolla shape has been often asserted without an empirical demonstration of how natural selection acts on this trait. In generalist plants, in which flowers are visited by diverse pollinator fauna that commonly vary spatially, detecting pollinator-mediated selection on corolla shape is even more difficult. In this study, we explore the mechanisms promoting selection on corolla shape in the generalist crucifer Erysimum mediohispanicum Polatschek (Brassicaceae). We found that the main pollinators of E. mediohispanicum (large bees, small bees and bee flies) discriminate between different corolla shapes when offered artificial flowers without reward. Importantly, different pollinators prefer different shapes: bees prefer flowers with narrow petals, whereas bee flies prefer flowers with rounded overlapping petals. We also found that flowers with narrow petals (those preferred by bees) produce both more pollen and nectar than those with rounded petals. Finally, different plant populations were visited by different faunas. As a result, we found spatial variation in the selection acting on corolla shape. Selection favoured flowers with narrow petals in the populations where large or small bees are the most abundant pollinator groups. Our study suggests that pollinators, by preferring flowers with high reward, exert strong selection on the E. mediohispanicum corolla shape. The geographical variation in the pollinator-mediated selection on E. mediohispanicum corolla shape suggests that phenotypic evolution and diversification can occur in this complex floral trait even without specialization.
PMCID: PMC2603243  PMID: 18544510
corolla shape evolution; pollinator preference; spatial variation; geometric morphometrics; nectar; pollen
6.  Pollinators of the Rocky Mountain columbine: temporal variation, functional groups and associations with floral traits 
Annals of Botany  2009;103(9):1567-1578.
Background and Aims
Pollinators together with other biotic and some abiotic factors can select for floral traits. However, variation in pollinator abundance over time and space can weaken such selection. In the present study, the variation in pollinator abundance over time and space was examined in populations of the Rocky Mountain columbine. The variation in three floral traits is described and correlations between pollinator type, functional pollinator groups or altitude and floral traits are examined.
Pollinator observations took place in six Aquilegia coerulea populations over 1–4 years and spur length, flower colour and sepal length were measured in 12 populations. Pollinator abundance, measured as visits per flower per hour, was compared among populations and years. Pollinators were grouped into two functional groups: pollen or nectar collectors. The following associations were examined: annual presence of hawkmoths and whiter flowers with longer spurs; the presence of Sphinx vashti and longer spurs; and higher altitudes and whiter flowers. The study looked at whether an increase in the proportion of hawkmoths in a population was associated with whiter and larger flowers with longer spurs.
Key Results
The abundance of different pollinator groups varied over time and space. Floral traits varied among populations. Higher altitude was correlated with bluer flowers. Whiter flowers were associated with the annual presence of hawkmoths. Populations visited by Sphinx vashti had longer spurs than populations visited only by Hyles lineata. Populations with greater percentage of nectar-collecting pollinators did not have whiter, larger flowers with longer spurs.
Despite the large variation in pollinator abundance over time and space, one species of bumble-bee or hawkmoth tended to predominate in each population each year. Future studies of Aquilegia coerulea should examine the specific influences of pollinators and the environment on flower colour and of hawkmoth species on spur length.
PMCID: PMC2701757  PMID: 19414518
Aquilegia coerulea; columbine; pollinator abundance; bumble-bee; hawkmoth, flower colour; spur length; functional pollinator group; altitude; floral trait
7.  Identification of major quantitative trait loci underlying floral pollination syndrome divergence in Penstemon 
Distinct floral pollination syndromes have emerged multiple times during the diversification of flowering plants. For example, in western North America, a hummingbird pollination syndrome has evolved more than 100 times, generally from within insect-pollinated lineages. The hummingbird syndrome is characterized by a suite of floral traits that attracts and facilitates pollen movement by hummingbirds, while at the same time discourages bee visitation. These floral traits generally include large nectar volume, red flower colour, elongated and narrow corolla tubes and reproductive organs that are exerted from the corolla. A handful of studies have examined the genetic architecture of hummingbird pollination syndrome evolution. These studies find that mutations of relatively large effect often explain increased nectar volume and transition to red flower colour. In addition, they suggest that adaptive suites of floral traits may often exhibit a high degree of genetic linkage, which could facilitate their fixation during pollination syndrome evolution. Here, we explore these emerging generalities by investigating the genetic basis of floral pollination syndrome divergence between two related Penstemon species with different pollination syndromes—bee-pollinated P. neomexicanus and closely related hummingbird-pollinated P. barbatus. In an F2 mapping population derived from a cross between these two species, we characterized the effect size of genetic loci underlying floral trait divergence associated with the transition to bird pollination, as well as correlation structure of floral trait variation. We find the effect sizes of quantitative trait loci for adaptive floral traits are in line with patterns observed in previous studies, and find strong evidence that suites of floral traits are genetically linked. This linkage may be due to genetic proximity or pleiotropic effects of single causative loci. Interestingly, our data suggest that the evolution of floral traits critical for hummingbird pollination was not constrained by negative pleiotropy at loci that show co-localization for multiple traits.
PMCID: PMC4071523  PMID: 24958923
Penstemon; pollination syndrome; QTL; genetics of adaptation; phenotypic correlation
8.  Are there pollination syndromes in the Australian epacrids (Ericaceae: Styphelioideae)? A novel statistical method to identify key floral traits per syndrome 
Annals of Botany  2013;112(1):141-149.
Background and Aims
Convergent floral traits hypothesized as attracting particular pollinators are known as pollination syndromes. Floral diversity suggests that the Australian epacrid flora may be adapted to pollinator type. Currently there are empirical data on the pollination systems for 87 species (approx. 15 % of Australian epacrids). This provides an opportunity to test for pollination syndromes and their important morphological traits in an iconic element of the Australian flora.
Data on epacrid–pollinator relationships were obtained from published literature and field observation. A multivariate approach was used to test whether epacrid floral attributes related to pollinator profiles. Statistical classification was then used to rank floral attributes according to their predictive value. Data sets excluding mixed pollination systems were used to test the predictive power of statistical classification to identify pollination models.
Key Results
Floral attributes are correlated with bird, fly and bee pollination. Using floral attributes identified as correlating with pollinator type, bird pollination is classified with 86 % accuracy, red flowers being the most important predictor. Fly and bee pollination are classified with 78 and 69 % accuracy, but have a lack of individually important floral predictors. Excluding mixed pollination systems improved the accuracy of the prediction of both bee and fly pollination systems.
Although most epacrids have generalized pollination systems, a correlation between bird pollination and red, long-tubed epacrids is found. Statistical classification highlights the relative importance of each floral attribute in relation to pollinator type and proves useful in classifying epacrids to bird, fly and bee pollination systems.
PMCID: PMC3690994  PMID: 23681546
Epacridaceae (epacrids); Ericaceae; multivariate analysis; plant–pollinator interactions; pollination syndromes; Random Forests; statistical classification; Styphelioideae
9.  Functional morphology and wasp pollination of two South American asclepiads (Asclepiadoideae–Apocynaceae) 
Annals of Botany  2011;109(1):77-93.
Background and Aims
The extreme complexity of asclepiad flowers (Asclepiadoideae–Apocynaceae) has generated particular interest in the pollination biology of this group of plants especially in the mechanisms involved in the pollination processes. This study compares two South American species, Morrenia odorata and Morrenia brachystephana, with respect to morphology and anatomy of flower structures, dynamic aspects of the pollination mechanism, diversity of visitors and effectiveness of pollinators.
Floral structure was studied with fresh and fixed flowers following classical techniques. The pollination mechanism was studied by visiting fresh flowers in the laboratory with artificial pollinator body parts created with an eyelash. Morphometric and nectar measurements were also taken. Pollen transfer efficiency in the flowers was calculated by recording the frequency of removed and inserted pollinia. Visitor activity was recorded in the field, and floral visitors were captured for subsequent analysis of pollen loads. Finally, pollinator effectiveness was calculated with an index.
Key Results
The detailed structure of the flowers revealed a complex system of guide rails and chambers precisely arranged in order to achieve effective pollinaria transport. Morrenia odorata is functionally specialized for wasp pollination, and M. brachystephana for wasp and bee pollination. Pollinators transport chains of pollinaria adhered to their mouthparts.
Morrenia odorata and M. brachystephana present differences in the morphology and size of their corona, gynostegium and pollinaria, which explain the differences in details of the functioning of the general pollination mechanism. Pollination is performed by different groups of highly effective pollinators. Morrenia species are specialized for pollination mainly by several species of wasps, a specialized pollination which has been poorly studied. In particular, pompilid wasps are reported as important pollinators in other regions outside South Africa. A putative new function of nectar in asclepiads is presented, as it would be contributing to the pollination mechanism.
PMCID: PMC3241588  PMID: 22025522
Morrenia odorata; Morrenia brachystephana; asclepiads; functional morphology; pollination mechanism; wasps; pollinator effectiveness
10.  A Regulatory Network for Coordinated Flower Maturation 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(2):e1002506.
For self-pollinating plants to reproduce, male and female organ development must be coordinated as flowers mature. The Arabidopsis transcription factors AUXIN RESPONSE FACTOR 6 (ARF6) and ARF8 regulate this complex process by promoting petal expansion, stamen filament elongation, anther dehiscence, and gynoecium maturation, thereby ensuring that pollen released from the anthers is deposited on the stigma of a receptive gynoecium. ARF6 and ARF8 induce jasmonate production, which in turn triggers expression of MYB21 and MYB24, encoding R2R3 MYB transcription factors that promote petal and stamen growth. To understand the dynamics of this flower maturation regulatory network, we have characterized morphological, chemical, and global gene expression phenotypes of arf, myb, and jasmonate pathway mutant flowers. We found that MYB21 and MYB24 promoted not only petal and stamen development but also gynoecium growth. As well as regulating reproductive competence, both the ARF and MYB factors promoted nectary development or function and volatile sesquiterpene production, which may attract insect pollinators and/or repel pathogens. Mutants lacking jasmonate synthesis or response had decreased MYB21 expression and stamen and petal growth at the stage when flowers normally open, but had increased MYB21 expression in petals of older flowers, resulting in renewed and persistent petal expansion at later stages. Both auxin response and jasmonate synthesis promoted positive feedbacks that may ensure rapid petal and stamen growth as flowers open. MYB21 also fed back negatively on expression of jasmonate biosynthesis pathway genes to decrease flower jasmonate level, which correlated with termination of growth after flowers have opened. These dynamic feedbacks may promote timely, coordinated, and transient growth of flower organs.
Author Summary
Perfect flowers have both male organs that produce and release pollen and female organs that make and harbor seeds. Flowers also often attract pollinators using visual or chemical signals. So that male, female, and pollinator attraction functions occur at the right time, flower organs must grow and mature in a coordinated fashion. In the model self-pollinating plant Arabidopsis, a transcriptional network regulates genes that ensure coordinated growth of different flower organs, as well as pollen release and gynoecium (female) competence to support pollination. This network also regulates nectary development and production of volatile chemicals that may attract or repel insects. We have studied growth, chemical signal levels, and gene expression in mutants affected in components of this network, in order to determine how flower growth is controlled. Several plant hormones act in a cascade that promotes flower maturation. Moreover, regulatory feedback loops affect the timing and extent of developmental steps. Positive feedbacks may ensure that the development of different flower organs is coordinated and rapid, whereas negative feedbacks may allow growth to cease once flowers have opened. Our results provide a framework to understand how flower opening and reproduction are coordinated in Arabidopsis and other flowering plants.
PMCID: PMC3276552  PMID: 22346763
11.  Evolutionary consequences of shifts to bird-pollination in the Australian pea-flowered legumes (Mirbelieae and Bossiaeeae) 
Interactions with pollinators are proposed to be one of the major drivers of diversity in angiosperms. Specialised interactions with pollinators can lead to specialised floral traits, which collectively are known as a pollination syndrome. While it is thought that specialisation to a pollinator can lead to either an increase in diversity or in some cases a dead end, it is not well understood how transitions among specialised pollinators contribute to changes in diversity. Here, we use evolutionary trait reconstruction of bee-pollination and bird-pollination syndromes in Australian egg-and-bacon peas (Mirbelieae and Bossiaeeae) to test whether transitions between pollination syndromes is correlated with changes in species diversity. We also test for directionality in transitions that might be caused by selection by pollinators or by an evolutionary ratchet in which reversals to the original pollination syndrome are not possible.
Trait reconstructions of Australian egg-and-bacon peas suggest that bee-pollination syndrome is the ancestral form and that there has been replicated evolution of bird-pollination syndromes. Reconstructions indicate potential reversals from bird- to bee-pollination syndromes but this is not consistent with morphology. Species diversity of bird-pollination syndrome clades is lower than that of their bee-pollination syndrome sisters.
We estimated the earliest transitions from bee- to bird-pollination syndrome occurred between 30.8 Ma and 10.4 Ma. Geographical structuring of pollination syndromes was found; there were fewer bird-pollination species in the Australian southeast temperate region compared to other regions of Australia.
A consistent decrease in diversification rate coincident with switches to bird pollination might be explained if greater dispersal by bird pollinators results in higher levels of connectivity among populations and reduced chances of allopatric speciation.
The earliest transitions overlap with the early diversification of Australian honeyeaters – the major lineage of pollinating birds in Australia. Our findings are consistent with the idea that environment and availability of pollinators are important in the evolution of pollination syndromes. Changes in flower traits as a result of transitions to bird-pollination syndrome might also limit reversals to a bee-pollination syndrome.
PMCID: PMC4015313  PMID: 24602227
Pollination syndrome; Adaptive radiation; Ancestral state reconstruction; Diversification
12.  Wild bees preferentially visit Rudbeckia flower heads with exaggerated ultraviolet absorbing floral guides 
Biology Open  2014;3(3):221-230.
Here, we report on the results of an experimental study that assessed the visitation frequency of wild bees to conspecific flowers with different sized floral guides. UV absorbent floral guides are ubiquitous in Angiosperms, yet surprisingly little is known about conspecific variation in these guides and very few studies have evaluated pollinator response to UV guide manipulation. This is true despite our rich understanding about learning and color preferences in bees. Historical dogma indicates that flower color serves as an important long-range visual signal allowing pollinators to detect the flowers, while floral guides function as close-range signals that direct pollinators to a reward. We initiated the work presented here by first assessing the population level variation in UV absorbent floral guides for conspecific flowers. We assessed two species, Rudbeckia hirta and R. fulgida. We then used several petal cut-and-paste experiments to test whether UV floral guides can also function to attract visitors. We manipulated floral guide size and evaluated visitation frequency. In all experiments, pollinator visitation rates were clearly associated with floral guide size. Diminished floral guides recruited relatively few insect visitors. Exaggerated floral guides recruited more visitors than smaller or average sized guides. Thus, UV floral guides play an important role in pollinator recruitment and in determining the relative attractiveness of conspecific flower heads. Consideration of floral guides is therefore important when evaluating the overall conspicuousness of flower heads relative to background coloration. This work raises the issue of whether floral guides serve as honest indicators of reward, since guide size varies in nature for conspecific flowers at the same developmental stage and since preferences for larger guides were found. To our knowledge, these are the first cut-and-paste experiments conducted to examine whether UV absorbent floral guides affect visitation rates and pollinator preference.
PMCID: PMC4001241  PMID: 24585774
Bee; Rudbeckia; Flower; Pollination; Opsin; Vision; Pollinator
13.  Variation in highbush blueberry floral volatile profiles as a function of pollination status, cultivar, time of day and flower part: implications for flower visitation by bees 
Annals of Botany  2011;107(8):1377-1390.
Background and Aims
Studies of the effects of pollination on floral scent and bee visitation remain rare, particularly in agricultural crops. To fill this gap, the hypothesis that bee visitation to flowers decreases after pollination through reduced floral volatile emissions in highbush blueberries, Vaccinium corymbosum, was tested. Other sources of variation in floral emissions and the role of floral volatiles in bee attraction were also examined.
Pollinator visitation to blueberry flowers was manipulated by bagging all flowers within a bush (pollinator excluded) or leaving them unbagged (open pollinated), and then the effect on floral volatile emissions and future bee visitation were measured. Floral volatiles were also measured from different blueberry cultivars, times of the day and flower parts, and a study was conducted to test the attraction of bees to floral volatiles.
Key Results
Open-pollinated blueberry flowers had 32 % lower volatile emissions than pollinator-excluded flowers. In particular, cinnamyl alcohol, a major component of the floral blend that is emitted exclusively from petals, was emitted in lower quantities from open-pollinated flowers. Although, no differences in cinnamyl alcohol emissions were detected among three blueberry cultivars or at different times of day, some components of the blueberry floral blend were emitted in higher amounts from certain cultivars and at mid-day. Field observations showed that more bees visited bushes with pollinator-excluded flowers. Also, more honey bees were caught in traps baited with a synthetic blueberry floral blend than in unbaited traps.
Greater volatile emissions may help guide bees to unpollinated flowers, and thus increase plant fitness and bee energetic return when foraging in blueberries. Furthermore, the variation in volatile emissions from blueberry flowers depending on pollination status, plant cultivar and time of day suggests an adaptive role of floral signals in increasing pollination of flowers.
PMCID: PMC3101143  PMID: 21498566
Vaccinium corymbosum; honey bees; bumble bees; volatile organic compounds; diurnal rhythm; nectar production; site of emission
14.  Selection by Pollinators on Floral Traits in Generalized Trollius ranunculoides (Ranunculaceae) along Altitudinal Gradients 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(2):e0118299.
Abundance and visitation of pollinator assemblages tend to decrease with altitude, leading to an increase in pollen limitation. Thus increased competition for pollinators may generate stronger selection on attractive traits of flowers at high elevations and cause floral adaptive evolution. Few studies have related geographically variable selection from pollinators and intraspecific floral differentiation. We investigated the variation of Trollius ranunculoides flowers and its pollinators along an altitudinal gradient on the eastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and measured phenotypic selection by pollinators on floral traits across populations. The results showed significant decline of visitation rate of bees along altitudinal gradients, while flies was unchanged. When fitness is estimated by the visitation rate rather than the seed number per plant, phenotypic selection on the sepal length and width shows a significant correlation between the selection strength and the altitude, with stronger selection at higher altitudes. However, significant decreases in the sepal length and width of T. ranunculoides along the altitudinal gradient did not correspond to stronger selection of pollinators. In contrast to the pollinator visitation, mean annual precipitation negatively affected the sepal length and width, and contributed more to geographical variation in measured floral traits than the visitation rate of pollinators. Therefore, the sepal size may have been influenced by conflicting selection pressures from biotic and abiotic selective agents. This study supports the hypothesis that lower pollinator availability at high altitude can intensify selection on flower attractive traits, but abiotic selection is preventing a response to selection from pollinators.
PMCID: PMC4334720  PMID: 25692295
15.  A pollinator shift explains floral divergence in an orchid species complex in South Africa 
Annals of Botany  2013;113(2):277-288.
Background and Aims
Floral diversification driven by shifts between pollinators has been one of the key explanations for the radiation of angiosperms. According to the Grant–Stebbins model of pollinator-driven speciation, these shifts result in morphologically distinct ‘ecotypes’ which may eventually become recognizable as species. The current circumscription of the food-deceptive southern African orchid Eulophia parviflora encompasses a highly variable monophyletic species complex. In this study, two forms were identified within this complex that differ in distribution, floral morphology, scent chemistry and phenology, and a test was made of whether these differences represent adaptations for different pollinators.
Methods and Results
Multivariate analysis of floral and vegetative traits revealed that there are at least two discrete morphological forms in the species complex. Field observations revealed that each form is pollinated by a different insect species, and thus represent distinct ecotypes. The early-flowering coastal form which has long spurs and floral scent dominated by sesquiterpene compounds is pollinated exclusively by the long-tongued bee Amegilla fallax (Apidae, Anthophorinae), while the late-flowering inland form with short spurs and floral scent dominated by benzenoid compounds is pollinated exclusively by the beetle Cyrtothyrea marginalis (Cetoniinae; Scarabaeidae). Choice experiments in a Y-maze olfactometer showed that beetles are preferentially attracted to the scent of the short-spurred form. A spur-shortening experiment showed that long spurs are required for effective pollination of the bee-pollinated form. Although it was initially thought likely that divergence occurred across a geographical pollinator gradient, plants of the long-spurred form were effectively pollinated when transplanted to an inland locality outside the natural coastal range of this form. Thus, the underlying geographical basis for the evolution of ecotypes in the E. parviflora complex remains uncertain, although early flowering in the long-spurred form to exploit the emergence of naïve bees may restrict this form to coastal areas where there is no frost that would damage flower buds. Later flowering of the short-spurred form coincides closely with the emergence of the pollinating beetles following winter frosts.
This study identifies a shift between bee and beetle pollination as the main driver of floral divergence in an orchid species complex. Floral scent and spur length appear to be key traits in mediating this evolutionary transition.
PMCID: PMC3890387  PMID: 24107684
Grant–Stebbins model; pollinator-driven speciation; pollination ecotypes; scent; Eulophia; Orchidaceae; phenology; beetle pollination; Cetoniinae; bee pollination; Y-maze olfactometer; Amegilla
16.  Extreme variation in floral characters and its consequences for pollinator attraction among populations of an Andean cactus 
Annals of Botany  2009;103(9):1489-1500.
Background and aims
A South American cactus species, Echinopsis ancistrophora (Cactaceae), with dramatic among-population variation in floral traits is presented.
Eleven populations of E. ancistrophora were studied in their habitats in northern Argentina, and comparisons were made of relevant floral traits such as depth, stigma position, nectar volume and sugar concentration, and anthesis time. Diurnal and nocturnal pollinator assemblages were evaluated for populations with different floral trait combinations.
Key Results
Remarkable geographical variations in floral traits were recorded among the 11 populations throughout the distribution range of E. ancistrophora, with flower lengths ranging from 4·5 to 24·1 cm. Other floral traits associated with pollinator attraction also varied in a population-specific manner, in concert with floral depth. Populations with the shortest flowers showed morning anthesis and those with the longest flowers opened at dusk, whereas those with flowers of intermediate length opened at unusual times (2300–0600 h). Nectar production varied non-linearly with floral length; it was absent to low (population means up to 15 µL) in short- to intermediate-length flowers, but was high (population means up to 170 µL) in the longest tubed flowers. Evidence from light-trapping of moths, pollen carriage on their bodies and moth scale deposition on stigmas suggests that sphingid pollination is prevalent only in the four populations with the longest flowers, in which floral morphological traits and nectar volumes match the classic expectations for the hawkmoth pollination syndrome. All other populations, with flowers 4·5–15 cm long, were pollinated exclusively by solitary bees.
The results suggest incipient differentiation at the population level and local adaptation to either bee or hawkmoth (potentially plus bee) pollination.
PMCID: PMC2701769  PMID: 19342397
Pollination; floral biology; Echinopsis ancistrophora; cactus; Cactaceae; hawkmoth; bee
17.  Why do so many petals have conical epidermal cells? 
Annals of Botany  2011;108(4):609-616.
The conical epidermal cells found on the petals of most Angiosperm species are so widespread that they have been used as markers of petal identity, but their function has only been analysed in recent years. This review brings together diverse data on the role of these cells in pollination biology.
The published effects of conical cells on petal colour, petal reflexing, scent production, petal wettability and pollinator grip on the flower surface are considered. Of these factors, pollinator grip has been shown to be of most significance in the well-studied Antirrhinum majus/bumble-bee system. Published data on the relationship between epidermal cell morphology and floral temperature were limited, so an analysis of the effects of cell shape on floral temperature in Antirrhinum is presented here. Statistically significant warming by conical cells was not detected, although insignificant trends towards faster warming at dawn were found, and it was also found that flat-celled flowers could be warmer on warm days. The warming observed is less significant than that achieved by varying pigment content. However, the possibility that the effect of conical cells on temperature might be biologically significant in certain specific instances such as marginal habitats or weather conditions cannot be ruled out.
Conical epidermal cells can influence a diverse set of petal properties. The fitness benefits they provide to plants are likely to vary with pollinator and habitat, and models are now required to understand how these different factors interact.
PMCID: PMC3170151  PMID: 21470973
Antirrhinum majus; conical cell; epidermis; floral scent; floral temperature; flower colour; grip; petal; pollination; wettability
18.  Bilabiate Flowers: The Ultimate Response to Bees? 
Annals of Botany  2007;100(2):361-374.
Background and Aims
Bilabiate flowers have evolved in many lineages of the angiosperms, thus representing a convincing example of parallel evolution. Similar to keel blossoms, they have obviously evolved in order to protect pollen against pollen-collecting bees. Although many examples are known, a comprehensive survey on floral diversity and functional constraints of bilabiate flowers is lacking. Here, the concept is widened and described as a general pattern.
The present paper is a conceptional review including personal observations of the authors. To form a survey on the diversity of bilabiate blossoms, a search was made for examples across the angiosperms and these were combined with personal observations collected during the last 25 years, coupled with knowledge from the literature. New functional terms are introduced that are independent of morphological and taxonomic associations.
Key Results
Bilabiate constructions occur in at least 38 angiosperm families. They are characterized by dorsiventral organization and dorsal pollen transfer. They are most often realised on the level of a single flower, but may also be present in an inflorescence or as part of a so-called ‘walk-around flower’. Interestingly, in functional terms all nototribic blossoms represent bilabiate constructions. The great majority of specialized bee-flowers can thus be included under bilabiate and keel blossoms. The syndrome introduced here, however, also paves the way for the inclusion of larger animals such as birds and bats. The most important evolutionary trends appear to be in the saving of pollen and the precision of its transfer. With special reference to the Lamiales, selected examples of bilabiate flowers are presented and their functional significance is discussed.
Bilabiate blossoms protect their pollen against pollen-collecting bees and at the same time render their pollination more precisely. The huge diversity of realised forms indicate the high selection pressure towards the bilabiate syndrome. As bees are very inventive, however, bilabiate constructions will not represent the ultimate response to bees.
PMCID: PMC2735325  PMID: 17652341
Bilabiate flowers; nototribic (dorsal) pollination; floral diversity; bee blossoms; functional morphology
19.  Floral dimorphism in plant populations with combined versus separate sexes 
Annals of Botany  2011;108(4):765-776.
Background and Aims
Dimorphism among floral traits can evolve through variation in selection intensity between female and male performance, especially when sex functions are separated between flowers on a plant (monoecy), or between individuals (dioecy). In animal-pollinated species, male floral traits are predicted to be larger because competition for pollinators should favour larger displays. Floral dimorphism may be greater in dioecious than monoecious populations because of trade-offs between female and male function and opportunities for selfing in hermaphrodites.
These predictions were tested by surveying flower size, total flowers per inflorescence and daily display size in the insect-pollinated Sagittaria latifolia (Alismataceae). This species is useful for comparative analysis because populations are mostly either monoecious or dioecious. We examined floral dimorphism in 13 monoecious and 16 dioecious populations in eastern North America.
Key Results
Male flowers were significantly larger than female flowers in monoecious and dioecious populations, but there was no evidence for greater flower size dimorphism in dioecious populations despite their larger flower sizes overall. Although inflorescences in both dioecious and monoecious populations produced more male flowers, daily floral displays were significantly larger for female than male function due to more synchronous female flower opening. Daily floral display dimorphism was significantly greater in dioecious populations, due to greater female daily floral displays. There was a positive relationship between mean flower size and total flowers per inflorescence for both sexes in dioecious populations, but no relationship for either sex function in monoecious populations. Flower size dimorphism was positively correlated with the frequencies of females in dioecious populations.
The increased size and number of male flowers and protracted male floral displays in S. latifolia are probably shaped by sexual selection for more effective pollen dispersal.
PMCID: PMC3170149  PMID: 21385777
Sexual dimorphism; flower size; daily floral display; sexual selection; sex ratios; monoecy; dioecy; Sagittaria latifolia
20.  Geographical differentiation in floral traits across the distribution range of the Patagonian oil-secreting Calceolaria polyrhiza: do pollinators matter? 
Annals of Botany  2013;113(2):251-266.
Background and Aims
The underlying evolutionary processes of pollinator-driven floral diversification are still poorly understood. According to the Grant–Stebbins model speciation begins with adaptive local differentiation in the response to spatial heterogeneity in pollinators. Although this crucial process links the micro- and macroevolution of floral adaptation, it has received little attention. In this study geographical phenotypic variation was investigated in Patagonian Calceolaria polyrhiza and its pollinators, two oil-collecting bee species that differ in body size and geographical distribution.
Patterns of phenotypic variation were examined together with their relationships with pollinators and abiotic factors. Six floral and seven vegetative traits were measured in 45 populations distributed across the entire species range. Climatic and edaphic parameters were determined for 25 selected sites, 2–16 bees per site of the most frequent pollinator species were captured, and a critical flower–bee mechanical fitting trait involved in effective pollination was measured. Geographical patterns of phenotypic and environmental variation were examined using uni- and multivariate analyses. Decoupled geographical variation between corolla area and floral traits related to the mechanical fit of pollinators was explored using a Mantel test.
Key Results
The body length of pollinators and the floral traits related to mechanical fit were strongly correlated with each other. Geographical variation of the mechanical-fit-related traits was decoupled from variation in corolla size; the latter had a geographical pattern consistent with that of the vegetative traits and was mainly affected by climatic gradients.
The results are consistent with pollinators playing a key role in shaping floral phenotype at a geographical scale and promoting the differentiation of two floral ecotypes. The relationship between the critical floral-fit-related trait and bee length remained significant even in models that included various environmental variables and an allometric predictor (corolla area). The abiotic environment also has an important role, mainly affecting floral size. Decoupled geographical variation between floral mechanical-fit-related traits and floral size would represent a strategy to maintain plant–pollinator phenotypic matching in this environmentally heterogeneous area.
PMCID: PMC3890392  PMID: 24252281
Abiotic environmental gradients; bee morphology; Calceolaria; floral ecotypes; geographical range; local adaptation; oil-collecting bees; oil-offering flowers; Patagonia; phenotypic covariance; specialized pollination; speciation; vegetative morphology
21.  Bumblebees Learn Polarization Patterns 
Current Biology  2014;24(12):1415-1420.
Foraging insect pollinators such as bees must find and identify flowers in a complex visual environment. Bees use skylight polarization patterns for navigation [1–3], a capacity mediated by the polarization-sensitive dorsal rim area (DRA) of their eye [4, 5]. While other insects use polarization sensitivity to identify appropriate habitats [6], oviposition sites, and food sources [7], to date no nonnavigational functions of polarization vision have been identified in bees. Here we investigated the ability of bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) to learn polarization patterns on artificial “flowers” in order to obtain a food reward. We show that foraging bumblebees can learn to discriminate between two differently polarized targets, but only when the target artificial “flower” is viewed from below. A context for these results is provided by polarization imaging of bee-pollinated flowers, revealing the potential for polarization patterns in real flowers. Bees may therefore have the ability to use polarization vision, possibly mediated by their polarization-sensitive DRA, both for navigation and to learn polarization patterns on flowers, the latter being the first nonnavigational function for bee polarization vision to be identified.
•Bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) learn polarization patterns on artificial “flowers”•Polarization patterns were only learned from downward-facing, pendant “flowers”•Polarization vision in bumblebees is not restricted to sun-compass navigation•Polarization patterns of petals may be a component of floral signaling
Foraging bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) learn polarization patterns on downward-facing artificial “flowers” to find food, demonstrating that their polarization vision is not restricted to sun-compass navigation. Polarization patterns occur on the petals of real flowers and may be a, hitherto overlooked, component of floral signaling.
PMCID: PMC4062934  PMID: 24909321
22.  The role of short-tongued insects in floral variation across the range of a style-dimorphic plant 
Annals of Botany  2012;111(2):317-328.
Background and Aims
Heterostyly and related style polymorphisms are suitable model systems to evaluate the importance of functional pollinators in the maintenance of population variability. In Narcissus papyraceus different functional pollinators, incompatibility system and flower morphology have been proposed to influence the maintenance of polymorphism through their effect on disassortative mating. Here a test is done to find out if the visitation rate of long- versus short-tongued pollinators correlates with the morph ratio and if the latter is related to other flower traits of the species across its main geographic range.
Floral traits from 34 populations in the south-west of the Iberian Peninsula and in north-west Africa were measured, perianth variation was described and a comparison was made of allometric relationships between sex organs and floral tube. Correlations between pollinator guilds, stigma–anther separation of reciprocal morphs (our proxy for disassortative mating) and morph-ratio variation were analysed. Finally, the incompatibility system of the species in the northern and southern borders of its distribution are described.
Key Results
Flowers from southern populations were significantly larger than flowers from centre and northern populations. The abundance of short-styled plants decreased gradually with increasing distance from the core region (the Strait of Gibraltar), with these disappearing only in the northern range. Although there was a significant difference in stigma–anther separation among populations, morph ratio was not associated with reciprocity or floral tube length. Long-style morph frequency increased with short-tongued pollinator visitation rate. Populations from both edges of the distribution range were self-incompatible and within- and between-morph compatible.
The style morph ratio changed gradually, whereas perianth trait variation showed abrupt changes with two morphotypes across the range. The positive relationship between the visitation rate of short-tongued pollinators and the decrease of the short-style morph supports our initial hypothesis. The results highlight the importance of different pollinators in determining the presence of style polymorphism.
PMCID: PMC3555527  PMID: 23223205
Disassortative mating; floral morphology; geographic variation; morph ratio; Narcissus papyraceus; pollinators; stylar dimorphism
23.  Floral trait variation and integration as a function of sexual deception in Gorteria diffusa 
Phenotypic integration, the coordinated covariance of suites of morphological traits, is critical for proper functioning of organisms. Angiosperm flowers are complex structures comprising suites of traits that function together to achieve effective pollen transfer. Floral integration could reflect shared genetic and developmental control of these traits, or could arise through pollinator-imposed stabilizing correlational selection on traits. We sought to expose mechanisms underlying floral trait integration in the sexually deceptive daisy, Gorteria diffusa, by testing the hypothesis that stabilizing selection imposed by male pollinators on floral traits involved in mimicry has resulted in tighter integration. To do this, we quantified patterns of floral trait variance and covariance in morphologically divergent G. diffusa floral forms representing a continuum in the levels of sexual deception. We show that integration of traits functioning in visual attraction of male pollinators increases with pollinator deception, and is stronger than integration of non-mimicry trait modules. Consistent patterns of within-population trait variance and covariance across floral forms suggest that integration has not been built by stabilizing correlational selection on genetically independent traits. Instead pollinator specialization has selected for tightened integration within modules of linked traits. Despite potentially strong constraint on morphological evolution imposed by developmental genetic linkages between traits, we demonstrate substantial divergence in traits across G. diffusa floral forms and show that divergence has often occurred without altering within-population patterns of trait correlations.
PMCID: PMC4084545  PMID: 25002705
Gorteria; integration; insect mimicry
24.  Seasonal change in a pollinator community and the maintenance of style length variation in Mertensia fusiformis (Boraginaceae) 
Annals of Botany  2011;108(1):1-12.
Background and Aims
In sub-alpine habitats, patchiness in snowpack produces marked, small-scale variation in flowering phenology. Plants in early- and late-melting patches are therefore likely to experience very different conditions during their flowering periods. Mertensia fusiformis is an early-flowering perennial that varies conspicuously in style length within and among populations. The hypothesis that style length represents an adaptation to local flowering time was tested. Specifically, it was hypothesized that lower air temperatures and higher frost risk would favour short-styled plants (with stigmas more shielded by corollas) in early-flowering patches, but that the pollen-collecting behaviour of flower visitors in late-flowering patches would favour long-styled plants.
Floral morphology was measured, temperatures were monitored and pollinators were observed in several matched pairs of early and late populations. To evaluate effects of cold temperatures on plants of different style lengths, experimental pollinations were conducted during mornings (warm) and evenings (cool), and on flowers that either had or had not experienced a prior frost. The effectiveness of different pollinators was quantified as seed set following single visits to plants with relatively short or long styles.
Key Results
Late-flowering populations experienced warmer temperatures than early-flowering populations and a different suite of pollinators. Nectar-foraging bumble-bee queens and male solitary bees predominated in early populations, whereas pollen-collecting female solitary bees were more numerous in later sites. Pollinators differed significantly in their abilities to transfer pollen to stigmas at different heights, in accordance with our prediction. However, temperature and frost sensitivity did not differ between long- and short-styled plants. Although plants in late-flowering patches tended to have longer styles than those in early patches, this difference was not consistent.
Seasonal change in pollinator-mediated selection on style length may help maintain variation in this trait in M. fusiformis, but adaptation to local flowering time is not apparent. The prevalence of short styles in these populations requires further explanation.
PMCID: PMC3119607  PMID: 21515606
Boraginaceae; floral morphology; frost; herkogamy; local adaptation; Mertensia fusiformis Greene; Osmia; phenology; pollination; Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory; temperature
25.  Pollinator scarcity drives the shift to delayed selfing in Himalayan mayapple Podophyllum hexandrum (Berberidaceae) 
AoB Plants  2013;5:plt037.
American mayapple and Himalayan mayapple are a pair of sister species with disjunct distribution between eastern Asia and eastern North America, which the former was considered to be self-incompatible but the later to be self-compatible. We are interested in the diversification of breeding systems in the two species, particularly a usual mode of self pollination in Himalayan mayapple (Podophyllum hexandrum) which is achieved by movement of the pistil as a previous study suggested. By contrast, our observations and flower manipulations show that delayed selfing was facilitated by petals closing and stamens moving simultaneously to contact the stigma, and bees were effective pollinators although they were few.
Recent molecular phylogenetics have indicated that American mayapple (mainly self-incompatible, SI) and Himalayan mayapple, which was considered to be self-compatible (SC), are sister species with disjunct distribution between eastern Asia and eastern North America. We test a hypothesis that the persistence of this early spring flowering herb in the Himalayan region is attributable to the transition from SI to SC, the capacity for selfing in an unpredictable pollination environment. Pollinator observations were conducted in an alpine meadow with hundreds of Himalayan mayapple (Podophyllum hexandrum Royle) individuals over 2 years. To examine autogamy, seed set under different pollination treatments was compared. To clarify whether automatic self-pollination is achieved by movement of the pistil as a previous study suggested, we measured incline angles of the pistil and observed flower movement during anthesis using video. Floral visitors to the nectarless flowers were very rare, but solitary bees and honeybees could be potential pollinators. Seed set of bagged flowers was not significantly different from that of open-pollinated, self- or cross-pollinated flowers. However, removal of petals or stamens lowered seed yield. The angles of inclination of pistils did not change during the process of pollination. Automatic self-pollination was facilitated by petals closing and stamens moving simultaneously to contact the stigma. Stigmatic pollen load increased little during the day time, in contrast to a sharp increase when the flowers closed during the night-time. These observations indicated that Himalayan mayapple was SC and delayed self-pollination was facilitated by the movement of petals rather than the pistil. Compared with SI American mayapple, no obvious inbreeding depression in SC Himalayan mayapple may contribute its existence in the uplifting zone. A scarcity of pollinators may have driven the shift to delayed selfing in P. hexandrum.
PMCID: PMC4455658
Autogamy; Baker's law; petal movement; Podophyllum hexandrum; Podophyllum peltatum; pollinator limitation; self-compatible; stigmatic pollen load.

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