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.
Background and Aims
Outcrossing animal-pollinated plants, particularly non-rewarding species, often experience pollinator limitation to reproduction. Pollinator visitation is affected by various factors, and it is hypothesized that reproduction in non-rewarding plants would benefit from low spatial flower abundance and asynchronous flowering. In order to test this hypothesis, the influence of spatial pattern and flowering phenology on male and female reproductive success (RS) was investigated in a non-rewarding orchid, Cypripedium japonicum, in central China over two flowering seasons.
The probabilities of intrafloral self-pollination and geitonogamy caused by pollinator behaviours were estimated from field observations. Pollinator limitation was evaluated by hand-pollination experiments. RS was surveyed in different spatial flower dispersal patterns and local flower densities. The effects of flowering phenological traits on RS were assessed by univariate and multivariate regression analyses.
Hand-pollination experiments revealed that fruit production was strongly pollen limited throughout the entire reproductive season – over two seasons, 74·3 % of individuals set fruit following hand pollination, but only 5·2–7·7 % did so under natural conditions. Intrafloral self-pollination and geitonogamy within the potential clones might be rare. Both male and female fitness were substantially lower in clustered plants than in those growing singly. An increase in local conspecific flower density significantly and negatively influenced male RS, but had no effect on female RS. Phenotypic selection analysis indicated that individuals flowering earlier have the greatest probability of RS. Over 85 % of sampled flowering individuals had a flowering synchrony value >0·7; however, highly synchronous flowering was not advantageous for RS, as indicated by the negative directional selection differentials and gradients, and by the positive quadratic selection gradients.
These results support the hypothesis that, as a consequence of density-dependent selection, low spatio-temporal flower abundance is advantageous for attracting pollinators and for reproduction in natural populations of non-rewarding C. japonicum.
Cypripedium japonicum; pollen limitation; spatial dispersal pattern; flowering synchrony; reproductive success; selection differential; selection gradient; deceptive flower
Background and Aims
Increasing evidence challenges the conventional perception that orchids are the most distinct example of floral diversification due to floral or prezygotic isolation. Regarding the relationship between co-flowering plants, rewarding and non-rewarding orchids in particular, few studies have investigated whether non-rewarding plants affect the pollination success of rewarding plants. Here, floral isolation and mutual effects between the rewarding orchid Galearis diantha and the non-rewarding orchid Ponerorchis chusua were investigated.
Flowering phenological traits were monitored by noting the opening and wilting dates of the chosen individual plants. The pollinator pool and pollinator behaviour were assessed from field observations. Key morphological traits of the flowers and pollinators were measured directly in the field. Pollinator limitation and interspecific compatibility were evaluated by hand-pollination experiments. Fruit set was surveyed in monospecific and heterospecific plots.
The species had overlapping peak flowering periods. Pollinators of both species displayed a certain degree of constancy in visiting each species, but they also visited other flowers before landing on the focal orchids. A substantial difference in spur size between the species resulted in the deposition of pollen on different regions of the body of the shared pollinator. Hand-pollination experiments revealed that fruit set was strongly pollinator-limited in both species. No significant difference in fruit set was found between monospecific plots and heterospecific plots.
A combination of mechanical isolation and incomplete ethological isolation eliminates the possibility of pollen transfer between the species. These results do not support either the facilitation or competition hypothesis regarding the effect of nearby rewarding flowers on non-rewarding plants. The absence of a significant effect of non-rewarding P. chusua on rewarding G. diantha can be ascribed to low levels of overlap between the pollinator pools of two species.
Galearis diantha; Ponerorchis chusua; rewarding and non-rewarding; mechanical isolation; ethological isolation; pollinator limitation; fruit set
Background and Aims
Most neotropical Melastomataceae have bee-pollinated flowers with poricidal anthers. However, nectar rewards are known to be produced in about 80 species in eight genera from four different tribes. These nectar-producing species are pollinated by both vertebrates and invertebrates.
The floral morphology and anatomy of 14 species was studied in six genera of nectar-producing Melastomataceae (Blakea, Brachyotum, Charianthus, Huilaea, Meriania and Miconia). Anatomical methods included scanning electron microscopy, and serial sections of paraffin-embedded flowers.
All vertebrate-pollinated melastome flowers have petals that do not open completely at anthesis, thus forming a pseudo-tubular corolla, while closely related species that are bee pollinated have rotate or reflexed corollas. In most species, nectar secretion is related to stomatal or epidermal nectaries and not filament slits as previously reported. Moreover, the nectar is probably supplied by large vascular bundles near the release area. Blakea and Huilaea have nectary stomata located upon the dorsal anther connective appendages. Brachyotum also has nectary stomata on the anther connectives, but these are distributed lengthwise along most of the connective. Meriania may release nectar through the anther connective, but has additional nectary stomata on the inner walls of the hypanthium. Miconia has nectary stomata on the ovary apex. Charianthus nectaries were not found, but there is circumstantial evidence that nectar release occurs through the epidermis at the apex of the ovary and the lower portions of the inner wall of the hypanthium.
Nectar release in Melastomataceae is apparently related to nectary stomata and not filament slits. The presence of nectary stomata on stamens and on ovary apices in different lineages suggests that the acquisition of nectaries is a derived condition. Nectary location also supports a derived condition, because location is strongly consistent within each genus, but differs between genera.
Blakea; Brachyotum; Charianthus; Huilaea; Meriania; Melastomataceae; Miconia; nectaries; nectary stomata; pollination
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.
corolla shape evolution; pollinator preference; spatial variation; geometric morphometrics; nectar; pollen
Background and Aims
Flower shapes are important visual cues for pollinators. However, the ability of pollinators to discriminate between flower shapes under natural conditions is poorly understood. This study focused on the diversity of flower shape in Primula sieboldii and investigated the ability of bumblebees to discriminate between flowers by combining computer graphics with a traditional behavioural experiment.
Elliptic Fourier descriptors described shapes by transforming coordinate information for the contours into coefficients, and principal components analysis summarized these coefficients. Using these methods, artificial flowers were created based on the natural diversity of petal shape in P. sieboldii. Dual-choice tests were then performed to investigate the ability of the bumblebees to detect differences in the aspect ratio of petals and the depth of their head notch.
The insects showed no significant ability to detect differences in the aspect ratio of the petals under natural conditions unless the morphological distance increased to an unrealistic level. These results suggest the existence of a perception threshold for distances in this parameter. The bumblebees showed a significant preference for narrow petals even after training using flowers with wide petals. The bumblebees showed a significant ability to discriminate based on the depth of the petal head notch after training using artificial flowers with a deep head notch. However, they showed no discrimination in tests with training using extreme distances between flowers in this parameter.
A new type of behavioural experiment was demonstrated using real variation in flower corolla shape in P. sieboldii. If the range in aspect ratios of petals expands much further, bumblebees may learn to exhibit selective behaviour. However, because discrimination by bumblebees under natural conditions was low, there may be no strong selective behaviour based on innate or learned preferences under natural conditions.
Bumblebee; computer graphics; elliptic Fourier descriptors; flower corolla shape; Primula sieboldii; principal components analysis; visual cue
• Background and Aims Fertilization is essential in almond production, and pollination can be limiting in production areas. This study investigated stigma receptivity under defined developmental stages to clarify the relationship between stigma morphology, pollen germination, tube growth and fruit set.
• Methods Light and scanning electron microscopy were employed to examine stigma development at seven stages of flower development ranging from buds that were swollen to flowers in which petals were abscising. Flowers at different stages were hand pollinated and pollen germination and tube growth assessed. Artificial pollinations in the field were conducted to determine the effect of flower age on fruit set.
• Key Results Later stages of flower development exhibited greater stigma receptivity, i.e. higher percentages of pollen germination and more extensive tube growth occurred in older (those opened to the flat petal stage or exhibiting petal fall) than younger flowers. Enhanced stigma receptivity was associated with elongation of stigmatic papillae and increased amounts of stigmatic exudate that inundated papillae at later developmental stages. Field pollinations indicated that the stigma was still receptive and nut set was maintained in older flowers.
• Conclusions Stigma receptivity in almond does not become optimal until flowers are past the fully open stage. The stigma is still receptive and fruit set is maintained in flowers even at the stage when petals are abscising. Strategies to enhance pollination and crop yield, including the timing and placement of honey bees, should consider the effectiveness of developmentally advanced flowers.
Almond; effective pollination period; Prunus dulcis; stigma receptivity; stigmatic exudate
Background and Aims
The legume flower is highly variable in symmetry and differentiation of petal types. Most papilionoid flowers are zygomorphic with three types of petals: one dorsal, two lateral and two ventral petals. Mimosoids have radial flowers with reduced petals while caesalpinioids display a range from strongly zygomorphic to nearly radial symmetry. The aims are to characterize the petal micromorphology relative to flower morphology and evolution within the family and assess its use as a marker of petal identity (whether dorsal, lateral or ventral) as determined by the expression of developmental genes.
Petals were analysed using the scanning electron microscope and light microscope. A total of 175 species were studied representing 26 tribes and 89 genera in all three subfamilies of the Leguminosae.
The papilionoids have the highest degree of variation of epidermal types along the dorsiventral axis within the flower. In Loteae and genistoids, in particular, it is common for each petal type to have a different major epidermal micromorphology. Papillose conical cells are mainly found on dorsal and lateral petals. Tabular rugose cells are mainly found on lateral petals and tabular flat cells are found only in ventral petals. Caesalpinioids lack strong micromorphological variation along this axis and usually have only a single major epidermal type within a flower, although the type maybe either tabular rugose cells, papillose conical cells or papillose knobby rugose cells, depending on the species.
Strong micromorphological variation between different petals in the flower is exclusive to the subfamily Papilionoideae. Both major and minor epidermal types can be used as micromorphological markers of petal identity, at least in papilionoids, and they are important characters of flower evolution in the whole family. The molecular developmental pathway between specific epidermal micromorphology and the expression of petal identity genes has yet to be established.
Epidermis; Fabaceae; Papilionoideae; Caesalpinioideae; Mimosoideae; petal surface; scanning electron microscopy; papillose conical cells; tabular rugose cells; tabular flat cells; organ identity
The radiation of the angiosperms is often attributed to repeated evolutionary shifts between different pollinators, as this process drives diversification of floral forms and can lead to reproductive isolation. Floral scent is an important functional trait in many pollination systems but has seldom been implicated as a key mechanism in pollinator transitions. In this study, we suggest a role for sulphur compounds in mediating a shift between specialized carrion-fly and pompilid-wasp pollination systems in Eucomis (Hyacinthaceae). Flowers of closely related Eucomis species pollinated by carrion flies or pompilid wasps have very similar greenish-white flowers, but differ markedly in floral scent chemistry (determined by GC–MS analysis of headspace extracts). Comparison of the floral colours of the four Eucomis species in the visual systems of flies and wasps suggests that colour plays little role in pollinator discrimination. Nectar properties and morphology also do not differ strongly between fly- and wasp-pollinated flowers. By comparing floral scent bouquets and experimentally manipulating the scent of plants in the field, we demonstrate that shifts between wasp and fly pollination in these four congeners can depend on the production or suppression of sulphur compounds (dimethyl disulphide and dimethyl trisulphide) in the fragrance bouquet. This suggests that mutations affecting the production of particular scent compounds could precipitate shifts between pollinators, independently of floral morphology, colour or nectar properties.
pollinator transition; floral evolution; pollination syndrome; myophily; oligosulphide
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.
Antirrhinum majus; conical cell; epidermis; floral scent; floral temperature; flower colour; grip; petal; pollination; wettability
Background and Aims
Pollinator-mediated selection and evolution of floral traits have long fascinated evolutionary ecologists. No other plant family shows as wide a range of pollinator-linked floral forms as Orchidaceae. In spite of the large size of this model family and a long history of orchid pollination biology, the identity and specificity of most orchid pollinators remains inadequately studied, especially in the tropics where the family has undergone extensive diversification. Angraecum (Vandeae, Epidendroideae), a large genus of tropical Old World orchids renowned for their floral morphology specialized for hawkmoth pollination, has been a model system since the time of Darwin.
The pollination biology of A. cadetii, an endemic species of the islands of Mauritius and Reunion (Mascarene Islands, Indian Ocean) displaying atypical flowers for the genus (white and medium-size, but short-spurred) was investigated. Natural pollinators were observed by means of hard-disk camcorders. Pollinator-linked floral traits, namely spur length, nectar volume and concentration and scent production were also investigated. Pollinator efficiency (pollen removal and deposition) and reproductive success (fruit set) were quantified in natural field conditions weekly during the 2003, 2004 and 2005 flowering seasons (January to March).
Angraecum cadetii is self-compatible but requires a pollinator to achieve fruit set. Only one pollinator species was observed, an undescribed species of raspy cricket (Gryllacrididae, Orthoptera). These crickets, which are nocturnal foragers, reached flowers by climbing up leaves of the orchid or jumping across from neighbouring plants and probed the most ‘fresh-looking’ flowers on each plant. Visits to flowers were relatively long (if compared with the behaviour of birds or hawkmoths), averaging 16·5 s with a maximum of 41·0 s. At the study site of La Plaine des Palmistes (Pandanus forest), 46·5 % of flowers had pollen removed and 27·5 % had pollinia deposited on stigmas. The proportion of flowers that set fruit ranged from 11·9 % to 43·4 %, depending of the sites sampled across the island.
Although orthopterans are well known for herbivory, this represents the first clearly supported case of orthopteran-mediated pollination in flowering plants.
Angraecum; Mascarene Archipelago; oceanic islands; Orchidaceae; Orthoptera; plant–pollinator interactions; pollinator shifts
Angiosperm diversification has resulted in a vast array of plant morphologies. Only recently has it been appreciated that diversification might have proceeded quite differently for the two key diagnostic structures of this clade, flowers and fruits. These structures are hypothesized to have experienced different selective pressures via their interactions with animals in dispersal mutualisms, resulting in a greater amount of morphological diversification in animal-pollinated flowers than in animal-dispersed fruits. I tested this idea using size and colour traits for the flowers and fruits of 472 species occurring in three floras (St John, Hawaii and the Great Plains). Phylogenetically controlled analyses of nearest-neighbour distances in multidimensional trait space matched the predicted pattern: in each of the three floras, flowers were more divergent from one another than were fruits. In addition, the spacing of species clusters differed for flowers versus fruits in the flora of St John, with clusters in flower space more divergent than those in fruit space. The results are consistent with the idea that a major driver of angiosperm diversification has been stronger selection for divergent floral morphology than for divergent fruit morphology, although genetic, physiological and ecological constraints may also play a role.
angiosperm radiation; floral character displacement; ecological sorting; pollinator constancy; frugivory; seed dispersal and pollination syndromes
Members of the euasterid angiosperm family Solanaceae have been characterized as remarkably diverse in terms of flower morphology and pollinator type. In order to test the relative contribution of phylogeny to the pattern of distribution of floral characters related to pollination, flower form and pollinators have been mapped onto a molecular phylogeny of the family. Bilateral flower symmetry (zygomorphy) is prevalent in the basal grades of the family, and more derived clades have flowers that are largely radially symmetric, with some parallel evolution of floral bilateralism. Pollinator types (‘syndromes’) are extremely homoplastic in the family, but members of subfamily Solanoideae are exceptional in being largely bee pollinated. Pollinator relationships in those genera where they have been investigated more fully are not as specific as flower morphology and the classical pollinator syndrome models might suggest, and more detailed studies in some particularly variable genera, such as Iochroma and Nicotiana, are key to understanding the role of pollinators in floral evolution and adaptive radiation in the family. More studies of pollinators in the field are a priority.
adaptive radiation; flower morphology; phylogeny; Solanaceae; pollination syndrome; homoplasy
Background and Aims
‘Pollination syndromes’ are suites of phenotypic traits hypothesized to reflect convergent adaptations of flowers for pollination by specific types of animals. They were first developed in the 1870s and honed during the mid 20th Century. In spite of this long history and their central role in organizing research on plant–pollinator interactions, the pollination syndromes have rarely been subjected to test. The syndromes were tested here by asking whether they successfully capture patterns of covariance of floral traits and predict the most common pollinators of flowers.
Flowers in six communities from three continents were scored for expression of floral traits used in published descriptions of the pollination syndromes, and simultaneously the pollinators of as many species as possible were characterized.
Ordination of flowers in a multivariate ‘phenotype space’ defined by the syndromes showed that almost no plant species fall within the discrete syndrome clusters. Furthermore, in approximately two-thirds of plant species, the most common pollinator could not be successfully predicted by assuming that each plant species belongs to the syndrome closest to it in phenotype space.
The pollination syndrome hypothesis as usually articulated does not successfully describe the diversity of floral phenotypes or predict the pollinators of most plant species. Caution is suggested when using pollination syndromes for organizing floral diversity, or for inferring agents of floral adaptation. A fresh look at how traits of flowers and pollinators relate to visitation and pollen transfer is recommended, in order to determine whether axes can be identified that describe floral functional diversity more successfully than the traditional syndromes.
Convergent evolution; floral traits; global; montane meadow; multidimensional scaling; mutualism; phenotype space; pollination syndromes; temperate grassland; test; tropical forest; tropical mountains
Background and Aims
While pollinators may in general select for large, morphologically uniform floral phenotypes, drought stress has been proposed as a destabilizing force that may favour small flowers and/or promote floral variation within species.
The general validity of this concept was checked by surveying a taxonomically diverse array of 38 insect-pollinated Mediterranean species. The interplay between fresh biomass investment, linear size and percentage corolla allocation was studied. Allometric relationships between traits were investigated by reduced major-axis regression, and qualitative correlates of floral variation explored using general linear-model MANOVA.
Across species, flowers were perfectly isometrical with regard to corolla allocation (i.e. larger flowers were just scaled-up versions of smaller ones and vice versa). In contrast, linear size and biomass varied allometrically (i.e. there were shape variations, in addition to variations in size). Most floral variables correlated positively and significantly across species, except corolla allocation, which was largely determined by family membership and floral symmetry. On average, species with bilateral flowers allocated more to the corolla than those with radial flowers. Plant life-form was immaterial to all of the studied traits. Flower linear size variation was in general low among conspecifics (coefficients of variation around 10 %), whereas biomass was in general less uniform (e.g. 200–400 mg in Cistus salvifolius). Significant among-population differences were detected for all major quantitative floral traits.
Flower miniaturization can allow an improved use of reproductive resources under prevailingly stressful conditions. The hypothesis that flower size reflects a compromise between pollinator attraction, water requirements and allometric constraints among floral parts is discussed.
Allometry; biomass; corolla; drought; evolution; flower; Mediterranean; sclerophyllous; size; variation; water
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.
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.
Morrenia odorata; Morrenia brachystephana; asclepiads; functional morphology; pollination mechanism; wasps; pollinator effectiveness
Flower-visiting animals are constantly under predation risk when foraging and hence might be expected to evolve behavioural adaptations to avoid predators. We reviewed the available published and unpublished data to assess the overall effects of predators on pollinator behaviour and to examine sources of variation in these effects. The results of our meta-analysis showed that predation risk significantly decreased flower visitation rates (by 36%) and time spent on flowers (by 51%) by pollinators. The strength of the predator effects depended neither on predator taxa and foraging mode (sit-and-wait or active hunters) nor on pollinator lifestyle (social vs. solitary). However, predator effects differed among pollinator taxa: predator presence reduced flower visitation rates and time spent on flowers by Squamata, Lepidoptera and Hymenoptera, but not by Diptera. Furthermore, larger pollinators showed weaker responses to predation risk, probably because they are more difficult to capture. Presence of live crab spiders on flowers had weaker effects on pollinator behaviour than presence of dead or artificial crab spiders or other objects (e.g. dead bees, spheres), suggesting that predator crypsis may be effective to some extent. These results add to a growing consensus on the importance of considering both predator and pollinator characteristics from a community perspective.
Background and Aims
The evolution of selfing from outcrossing is characterized by a series of morphological changes to flowers culminating in the selfing syndrome. However, which morphological traits initiate increased self-pollination and which are accumulated after self-fertilization establishes is poorly understood. Because the expression of floral traits may depend on the conditions experienced by an individual during flower development, investigation of changes in mating system should also account for environmental and developmental factors. Here, early stages in the evolution of self-pollination are investigated by comparing floral traits among Brazilian populations of Eichhornia paniculata (Pontederiaceae), an annual aquatic that displays variation in selfing rates associated with the breakdown of tristyly to semi-homostyly.
Thirty-one Brazilian populations under uniform glasshouse conditions were compared to investigate genetic and environmental influences on flower size and stigma–anther separation (herkogamy), two traits that commonly vary in association with transitions to selfing. Within-plant variation in herkogamy was also examined and plants grown under contrasting environmental conditions were compared to examine to what extent this trait exhibits phenotypic plasticity.
In E. paniculata a reduction in herkogamy is the principal modification initiating the evolution of selfing. Significantly, reduced herkogamy was restricted to the mid-styled morph and occurred independently of flower size. Significant genetic variation for herkogamy was detected among populations and families, including genotypes exhibiting developmental instability of stamen position with bimodal distributions of herkogamy values. Cloned genets exposed to contrasting growth conditions demonstrated environmental control of herkogamy and genotypic differences in plasticity of this trait.
The ability to modify herkogamy independently of other floral traits, genetic variation in the environmental sensitivity of herkogamy, and the production of modified and unmodified flowers within some individuals, reveal the potential for dynamic control of the mating system in a species that commonly confronts heterogeneous aquatic environments.
Eichhornia paniculata; expressivity; flower morphology; herkogamy; phenotypic plasticity; pleiotropy; population variation; self-fertilization; stigma–anther separation; outcrossing; tristyly
Some species of long-spurred orchids achieve pollination by a close association with long-tongued hawkmoths. Among them, several Habenaria species present specialized mechanisms, where pollination success depends on the attachment of pollinaria onto the heads of hawkmoths with very long proboscises. However, in the Neotropical region such moths are less abundant than their shorter-tongued relatives and are also prone to population fluctuations. Both factors may give rise to differences in pollinator-mediated selection on floral traits through time and space.
We characterized hawkmoth assemblages and estimated phenotypic selection gradients on orchid spur lengths in populations of three South American Habenaria species. We examined the match between hawkmoth proboscis and flower spur lengths to determine whether pollinators may act as selective agents on flower morphology. We found significant directional selection on spur length only in Habenaria gourlieana, where most pollinators had proboscises longer than the mean of orchid spur length.
Phenotypic selection is dependent on the mutual match between pollinator and flower morphologies. However, our findings indicate that pollinator-mediated selection may vary through time and space according to local variations in pollinator assemblages.
• Background and Aims Plant anchorage is governed by complex, finely regulated mechanisms that occur at a morphological, architectural and anatomical level. Spanish broom (Spartium junceum) is a woody plant frequently found on slopes—a condition that affects plant anchorage. This plant grows throughout the Mediterranean area where it plays an important role in preventing landslides. Spanish broom seedlings respond promptly to slope by altering stem and root morphology. The aim of this study was to investigate the mechanisms whereby the root system of Spanish broom seedlings adapts to ensure anchorage to the ground.
• Methods Seedlings were grown in tilted and untilted pots under controlled conditions. The root apparatus was removed at different times of growth and subjected to morphological, biomechanical and molecular analyses.
• Key Results In slope-grown seedlings, changes in root system morphology, pulling strength and chemical lignin content, all features related to plant anchorage in the soil, were related to seedling age. cDNA-AFLP analysis revealed changes in the expression of several genes in root systems of slope-grown plants. BLAST analysis showed that some differentially expressed genes are homologues of genes induced by environmental stresses in other plant species, and/or are involved in the production of strengthening materials.
• Conclusion Plants use various mechanisms/strategies to respond to slope depending on their developmental stage.
Anchorage; cDNA-AFLP; lignin; pulling; root morphology; root; slope; Spartium junceum
Sexual selection theory predicts that males are limited in their reproductive success by access to mates, whereas females are more limited by resources. In animal-pollinated plants, attraction of pollinators and successful pollination is crucial for reproductive success. In dioecious plant species, males should thus be selected to increase their attractiveness to pollinators by investing more than females in floral traits that enhance pollinator visitation. We tested the prediction of higher attractiveness of male flowers in the dioecious, moth-pollinated herb Silene latifolia, by investigating floral signals (floral display and fragrance) and conducting behavioral experiments with the pollinator-moth, Hadena bicruris.
As found in previous studies, male plants produced more but smaller flowers. Male flowers, however, emitted significantly larger amounts of scent than female flowers, especially of the pollinator-attracting compounds. In behavioral tests we showed that naïve pollinator-moths preferred male over female flowers, but this preference was only significant for male moths.
Our data suggest the evolution of dimorphic floral signals is shaped by sexual selection and pollinator preferences, causing sexual conflict in both plants and pollinators.
Plants need not participate passively in their own mating, despite their immobility and reliance on pollen vectors. Instead, plants may respond to their recent pollination experience by adjusting the number of flowers that they display simultaneously. Such responsiveness could arise from the dependence of floral display size on the longevity of individual flowers, which varies with pollination rate in many plant species. By hand-pollinating some inflorescences, but not others, we demonstrate plasticity in display size of the orchid Satyrium longicauda. Pollination induced flower wilting, but did not affect the opening of new flowers, so that within a few days pollinated inflorescences displayed fewer flowers than unpollinated inflorescences. During subsequent exposure to intensive natural pollination, pollen removal and receipt increased proportionally with increasing display size, whereas pollen-removal failure and self-pollination accelerated. Such benefit–cost relations allow plants that adjust display size in response to the prevailing pollination rate to increase their attractiveness when pollinators are rare (large displays), or to limit mating costs when pollinators are abundant (small displays). Seen from this perspective, pollination-induced flower wilting serves the entire plant by allowing it to display the number of flowers that is appropriate for the current pollination environment.
floral longevity; geitonogamy; orchid; plant mating
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.
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.
Animal-pollinated angiosperms either depend on cross-pollination or may also reproduce after self-pollination—the former are thus obligately, the latter facultatively dependent on the service of animal-pollinators. Analogously, flower visitors either solely feed on floral resources or complement their diet with these, and are hence dependent or not on the flowers they visit. We assume that obligate flower visitors evolved abilities that enable them to effectively forage on flowers including mechanisms to bypass or tolerate floral defences such as morphological barriers and repellent/deterrent secondary metabolites. Facultative flower visitors, in contrast, are supposed to lack these adaptations and are often prevented to consume floral resources by defence mechanisms. In cases where obligate flower visitors are mutualists and facultative ones are antagonists, this dichotomy provides a solution for the plants' dilemma to attract pollinators and simultaneously repel exploiters. In a meta-analysis, we recently supported this hypothesis: obligate flower visitors are attracted to floral scents, while facultative ones are repelled. Here, we add empirical evidence to these results: bumblebees and ants, obligate and facultative flower visitors, respectively, responded as predicted by the results of the meta-analysis to synthetic floral scent compounds.
antagonists; exploitation; floral defences; mutualism; nectar; pollination
A basic theme in the study of plant–pollinator interactions is that pollinators select not just for single floral traits, but for associations of traits. Responses of pollinators to sets of traits are inherent in the idea of pollinator syndromes. In its most extreme form, selection on a suite of traits can take the form of correlational selection, in which a response to one trait depends on the value of another, thereby favouring floral integration. Despite the importance of selection for combinations of traits in the evolution of flowers, evidence is relatively sparse and relies mostly on observational approaches.
Here, methods for measuring selection on multivariate suites of floral traits are presented, and the studies to date are reviewed. It is argued that phenotypic manipulations present a powerful, but rarely used, approach to teasing apart the separate and combined effects of particular traits. The approach is illustrated with data from studies of alpine plants in Colorado and New Zealand, and recommendations are made about several features of the design of such experiments.
Phenotypic manipulations of two or more traits in combination provide a direct way of testing for selection of floral trait associations. Such experiments will be particularly valuable if rooted in hypotheses about differences between types of pollinators and tied to a proposed evolutionary history.
Colour; correlational selection; experiment; floral integration; multivariate selection; phenotypic manipulation; pollination syndrome; pollinator visitation