Background and Aims
Intermediate individuals (perfect flowers with very high degree of pollen abortion) in a gynodioecious plant species are very rare. A study is made of male–female relationships in each flower type and how floral characters can enhance the avoidance of ‘pollen discounting’ and ‘self-pollination’ in two gynodioecious species, Teucrium capitatum and Origanum syriacum.
The relationship between stigma receptivity and pollen viability was studied in two gynodioecious protandrous species of Lamiaceae, in addition to measuring some floral morphological characters over the life span of the flowers.
Three plant types in each species were found: plants bearing hermaphrodite (or male fertile) flowers (MF), female (or male sterile) flowers (MS) and intermediate flowers (INT). Plant types differed in flower size, with MS types being shorter than the other two types. There was no difference in style length among plant types in T. capitatum. Stigma receptivity decayed with floral age and was negative and significantly correlated with pollen viability in the two species, and positive and significantly correlated with style length in O. syriacum but only in MS flowers of T. capitatum.
Reduction in size of floral characters is associated with male sterility, except style length in T. capitatum. MF flowers have two successive reproductive impediments: self-pollination and pollen–stigma interference. In both species, self-pollination is avoided by dichogamy (negative correlation between stigma receptivity and pollen viability), and pollen–stigma interference shows two different patterns: (1) style elongation in O. syriacum is characterized by a significant length increase, final MF dimensions are greater than those of MS dimensions, and style length is positively and significantly correlated with stigma receptivity; and (2) style movement in T. capitatum is characterized by a non-significant increase in style length, final MF floral dimensions are similar to those of MS dimensions, and there is no correlation between style length and stigma receptivity.
Dichogamy; gynodioecy; Lamiaceae; Origanum syriacum; pollen discounting; pollen–stigma interference; pollen viability; protandry; stigma receptivity; style movement; style elongation; Teucrium capitatum
Background and Aims
The effect of pollination on flower life span has been widely studied, but so far little attention has been paid to the reproductive consequences of delayed pollination in plants with long floral life spans. In the present study, Polygala vayredae was used to answer the following questions. (1) How does male and female success affect the floral longevity of individual flowers? (2) How does delaying fertilization affect the female fitness of this species?
Floral longevity was studied after experimental pollinations involving male and/or female accomplishment, bagging and open pollination. The reproductive costs of a delay in the moment of fertilization were evaluated through fruit set, seed–ovule ratio and seed weight, after pollination of flowers that had been bagged for 2–18 d.
Senescence of the flowers of P. vayredae was activated by pollen reception on the stigmatic papillae, while pollen removal had no effect on floral longevity. Nonetheless, a minimum longevity of 8 d was detected, even after successful pollination and pollen dissemination. This period may be involved with the enhancement of male accrual rates, as the female accomplishment is generally achieved after the first visit. Floral life span of open-pollinated flowers was variable and negatively correlated with pollinator visitation rates. Delayed pollination had a major impact on the reproductive success of the plant, with fruit set, seed–ovule ratio and seed weight being significantly diminished with the increase of flower age at the moment of fertilization.
A strong relationship between pollination and floral longevity was observed. Flowers revealed the ability to extend or reduce their longevity, within some limits, in response to the abundance of efficient pollinators (i.e. reproductive fulfilment rates). Furthermore, with scarce or unpredictable pollinators, a long floral life span could maintain the opportunity for fertilization but would also have reproductive costs on production of offspring. Reduced female fitness late in the flower's life could shift the cost–benefit balance towards a shorter life span, partially counteracting the selection for longer floral life span potentially mediated by scarce pollination services.
Delayed pollination; endemic species; flower longevity; life span; pollen limitation; pollination; pollinator scarcity; Polygala vayredae; Polygalaceae; reproductive consequences; secondary pollen presentation
Background and Aims
Species that exhibit among-population variation in breeding system are particularly suitable to study the importance of the ecological context for the stability and evolution of gender polymorphism. Geographical variation in breeding system and sex ratio of Daphne laureola (Thymelaeaceae) was examined and their association with environmental conditions, plant and floral display sizes, and pollination environment in a broad geographic scale was analysed.
The proportion of female and hermaphrodite individuals in 38 populations within the Iberian Peninsula was scored. Average local temperature and precipitation from these sites were obtained from interpolation models based on 30 years of data. Pollination success was estimated as stigmatic pollen loads, pollen tubes per ovule and the proportion of unfertilized flowers per individual in a sub-set of hermaphroditic and gynodioecious populations.
Daphne laureola is predominantly gynodioecious, but hermaphroditic populations were found in northeastern and southwestern regions, characterized by higher temperatures and lower annual precipitation. In the gynodioecious populations, female plants were larger and bore more flowers than hermaphrodites. However, due to their lower pollination success, females did not consistently produce more seeds than hermaphrodites, which tends to negate a seed production advantage in D. laureola females. In the northeastern hermaphroditic populations, plants were smaller and produced 9–13 times fewer flowers than in the other Iberian regions, and thus presumably had a lower level of geitonogamous self-fertilization. However, in a few southern populations hermaphroditism was not associated with small plant size and low flower production.
The findings highlight that different mechanisms, including abiotic conditions and pollinator service, may account for breeding system variation within a species' distribution range and also suggest that geitonogamy may affect plant breeding system evolution.
Daphne laureola; environmental gradients; floral display; geographic variation; geitonogamy; gynodioecy; pollination success; sex ratio; Thymelaeaceae
Background and Aims
Pollen-collecting bees are among the most important pollinators globally, but are also the most common pollen thieves and can significantly reduce plant reproduction. The pollination efficiency of pollen collectors depends on the frequency of their visits to female(-phase) flowers, contact with stigmas and deposition of pollen of sufficient quantity and quality to fertilize ovules. Here we investigate the relative importance of these components, and the hypothesis that floral and inflorescence characteristics mediate the pollination role of pollen collection by bees.
For ten Aloe species that differ extensively in floral and inflorescence traits, we experimentally excluded potential bird pollinators to quantify the contributions of insect visitors to pollen removal, pollen deposition and seed production. We measured corolla width and depth to determine nectar accessibility, and the phenology of anther dehiscence and stigma receptivity to quantify herkogamy and dichogamy. Further, we compiled all published bird-exclusion studies of aloes, and compared insect pollination success with floral morphology.
Species varied from exclusively insect pollinated, to exclusively bird pollinated but subject to extensive pollen theft by insects. Nectar inaccessibility and strong dichogamy inhibited pollination by pollen-collecting bees by discouraging visits to female-phase (i.e. pollenless) flowers. For species with large inflorescences of pollen-rich flowers, pollen collectors successfully deposited pollen, but of such low quality (probably self-pollen) that they made almost no contribution to seed set. Indeed, considering all published bird-exclusion studies (17 species in total), insect pollination efficiency varied significantly with floral shape.
Species-specific floral and inflorescence characteristics, especially nectar accessibility and dichogamy, control the efficiency of pollen-collecting bees as pollinators of aloes.
Pollen theft; pollination efficiency; dichogamy; floral morphology; Aloe; Alooideae; Xanthorrhoeaceae; Asphodeloideae
Background and Aims
The mutualistic interaction between insects and flowers is considered to be a major factor in the early evolution of flowering plants. The Schisandraceae were, until now, the only family in the ANITA group lacking information on pollination biology in natural ecosystems. Thus, the objective of this research was to document the pollination biology and breeding system of Schisandra henryi.
Field observations were conducted in three populations of S. henryi and the floral phenology, floral characters and insect activities were recorded. Floral fragrances were sampled in the field and analysed using TCT-GC-MS. Floral thermogenesis was measured with a TR-71U Thermo Recorder. Pollen loads and location of pollen grains on insect bodies (including the gut) were checked with a scanning electron microscope and under a light microscope.
Schisandra henryi is strictly dioecious. Male flowers are similar to female flowers in colour, shape, and size, but more abundant than female flowers. The distance between tepals and the androecium or gynoecium is narrow. Neither male nor female flowers are fragrant or thermogenic. Schisandra henryi is pollinated only by adult female Megommata sp. (Cecidomyiidae, Diptera) that eat the pollen grains as extra nutrition for ovary maturation and ovipositing. Both male and female flowers attract the pollinators using similar visual cues and thus the female flowers use deceit as they offer no food.
Schisandra henryi exhibits a specialized pollination system, which differs from the generalized pollination system documented in other ANITA members. Pollen is the sole food resource for Megommata sp. and the female flowers of S. henryi attract pollinators by deceit. This is the first report of predacious gall midges utilizing pollen grains as a food source. The lack of floral thermogenesis and floral odours further enforces the visual cues by reducing attractants for other potential pollinators.
Schisandra henryi; Schisandraceae; ANITA group; Megommata sp.; Cecidomyiidae; specialized pollination system; pollination by deceit
Comparisons of the causes and consequences of cross- and self-fertilization have dominated research on plant mating since Darwin's seminal work on plant reproduction. Here, I provide examples of these accomplishments, but also illustrate new approaches that emphasize the role of floral design and display in pollen dispersal and fitness gain through male function. Wide variation in outcrossing rate characterizes animal-pollinated plants. In species with large floral displays, part of the selfing component of mixed mating can arise from geitonogamy and be maladaptive because of strong inbreeding depression and pollen discounting. Floral strategies that separate the benefits of floral display from the mating costs associated with geitonogamy can resolve these conflicts by reducing lost mating opportunities through male function. The results from experiments with marker genes and floral manipulations provide evidence for the function of herkogamy and dichogamy in reducing self-pollination and promoting pollen dispersal. Evidence is also presented indicating that increased selfing resulting from changes to floral design, or geitonogamy in large clones, can act as a stimulus for the evolution of dioecy. The scope of future research on mating strategies needs to be broadened to include investigations of functional links among flowers, inflorescences and plant architecture within the framework of life-history evolution.
Background and Aims
Large floral displays have opposing consequences for animal-pollinated angiosperms: they attract more pollinators but also enable elevated among-flower self-pollination (geitonogamy). The presence of sterile flowers as pollinator signals may enhance attraction while allowing displays of fewer open fertile flowers, limiting geitonogamy. The simultaneous contributions of fertile and non-fertile display components to pollinator attraction and reproductive output remain undetermined.
The simultaneous effects of the presence of sterile flowers and fertile-flower display size in two populations of Leopoldia comosa were experimentally assessed. Pollinator behaviour, pollen removal and deposition, and fruit and seed production were compared between intact plants and plants with sterile flowers removed.
The presence of sterile flowers almost tripled pollinator attraction, supplementing the positive effect of the number of fertile flowers on the number of bees approaching inflorescences. Although attracted bees visited more flowers on larger inflorescences, the number visited did not additionally depend on the presence of sterile flowers. The presence of sterile flowers improved all aspects of plant performance, the magnitude of plant benefit being context dependent. During weather favourable to pollinators, the presence of sterile flowers increased pollen deposition on stigmas of young flowers, but this difference was not evident in older flowers, probably because of autonomous self-pollination in poorly visited flowers. Total pollen receipt per stigma decreased with increasing fertile display size. In the population with more pollinators, the presence of sterile flowers increased fruit number but not seed set or mass, whereas in the other population sterile flowers enhanced seeds per fruit, but not fruit production. These contrasts are consistent with dissimilar cross-pollination and autonomous self-pollination, coupled with the strong predispersal inbreeding depression exhibited by L. comosa populations.
Sterile flowers enrich pollination quality by promoting pollen export and import, while limiting the mating costs of geitonogamy associated with large fertile displays.
Anthophora; cross-pollination; geitonogamy; fertile floral display; mating cost; Leopoldia comosa; non-fertile flowers; outcrossing; pollen deposition; pollen quality; pollen removal; sterile flowers
Background and Aims
Evolutionary transitions from heterostyly to dioecy have been proposed in several angiosperm families, particularly in Rubiaceae. These transitions involve the spread of male and female sterility mutations resulting in modifications to the gender of ancestral hermaphrodites. Despite sustained interest in the gender strategies of plants, the structural and developmental bases for transitions in sexual systems are poorly understood.
Here, floral morphology, patterns of fertility, pollen-tube growth and floral development are investigated in two populations of the scandent shrub Mussaenda pubescens (Rubiaceae), native to southern China, by means of experimental and open-pollinations, light microscopy, fluorescence microscopy and scanning electron microscopy combined with paraffin sectioning.
Mussaenda pubescens has perfect (hermaphroditic) flowers and populations with two style-length morphs but only weak differentiation in anther position (stigma-height dimorphism). Experimental pollinations demonstrated that despite morphological hermaphroditism, the species is functionally dioecious. The long-styled (L) morph possesses sterile pollen and functions as a female, whereas the short-styled (S) morph is female sterile and functions as a male. Self- and intra-morph pollinations of the S-morph were consistent with those expected from dimorphic incompatibility. The two populations investigated were both S-morph (male) biased. Investigations of early stages of floral development indicated patterns typical of hermaphroditic flowers, with no significant differences in organ growth between the floral morphs. Meiosis of microspore mother cells was of the simultaneous type with tetrads isobilateral in shape. The tapetal cells in anther walls of the L-morph became vacuolized during meiosis I, ahead of the uninucleate microspore stage in the S-morph. In the L-morph, the microspore nucleus degenerated at the tetrad stage resulting in male sterility. Microsporogenesis and male gametophyte development was normal in the S-morph. Failure in the formation of megaspore mother cells and/or the development of megagametophytes resulted in female sterility in the S-morph, compared with normal megasporogenesis in the L-morph.
In M. pubescens, cryptic dioecy has evolved from stigma-height dimorphism as a result of morph-specific sterility mutations.
Dioecy; distyly; female and male sterility; floral development; Mussaenda pubescens; stigma-height polymorphism; self-incompatibility
The flowers of most angiosperm species are hermaphroditic. Spatial separation of male and female organs within a flower (hercogamy) is a common character traditionally interpreted as an adaptation to reduce intrafloral self-fertilization, one potential cost of hermaphroditism. Another possible cost that may lead to selection for hercogamy is physical interference between male and female floral functions. Here, I present evidence demonstrating the role of a floral character in reducing female interference with male function. The bi-lobed stigma of the bush monkeyflower closes after receiving pollen, causing increased spatial separation of the anthers and stigma ('movement' hercogamy). Experimental manipulations show that flowers with closed stigmas export more than twice as much pollen to other flowers as those in which the stigma is prevented from closing. However, stigma closure only minimally reduces the potential for intrafloral self-pollination. This study provides the first experimental evidence that selection to reduce intrafloral male female interference can be a strong selective force and can drive the evolution of floral characters usually interpreted as mechanisms to reduce self-fertilization.
Background and Aims
Oxalis pes-caprae is a widespread invasive weed in regions with a Mediterranean climate. In its native habitat (southern Africa) this species has been reported as heterostylous with trimorphic flowers and a self- and morph-incompatible reproductive system. In most of the areas invaded, only a pentaploid short-styled morphotype that reproduces mainly asexually by bulbils is reported, but this has only been confirmed empirically. This study aims to analyse the floral morph proportions in a wide distribution area, test the sexual female success, and explain the causes of low sexual reproduction of this species in the western area of the Mediterranean Basin.
Fifty-five populations of O. pes-caprae were sampled in the Iberian Peninsula and Morocco to evaluate the floral morph ratio and individual fruit set. In plants from a dimorphic population, hand-pollination experiments were performed to evaluate the effect of the pollen source on pollen tube growth through the style. The ploidy level and genome size of individuals of each floral morph were analysed using flow cytometry.
From the populations studied 89·1 % were monomorphic, with most of them containing the short-styled (SS) floral morph, and 10·9 % were dimorphic containing long-styled (LS) and SS morphs. In some of these, isoplethy was verified but no fruit production was observed in any population. A sterile form was also recorded in several populations. Hand-pollination experiments revealed that pollen grains germinated over recipient stigmas. In intermorph crossings, pollen tubes were able to develop and fruit initiation was observed in some cases, while in intramorph pollinations, pollen tube development was sporadic and no fruit initiation was observed. All individuals within each floral form presented the same DNA ploidy level: SS plants were pentaploid and LS and the sterile form were tetraploid.
The low or null sexual reproduction success of this species in the area of invasion studied seems related with the high frequency of monomorphic populations, the unequal proportion of floral morphs in dimorphic populations and the presence of different ploidy levels between SS and LS morphs. The discovery of the occurrence of an LS floral morph and a sterile form, whose invading capacity in these areas is as yet unknown, will be valuable information for management programmes.
Flow cytometry; genome size; heterostyly; invasive plant; Oxalis pes-caprae; ploidy level; reproductive biology; weed
Many zoophilous plants attract their pollinators by offering nectar as a reward. In gynodioecious plants (i.e. populations are composed of female and hermaphrodite individuals) nectar production has been repeatedly reported to be larger in hermaphrodite compared to female flowers even though nectar production across the different floral phases in dichogamous plants (i.e. plants with time separation of pollen dispersal and stigma receptivity) has rarely been examined. In this study, sugar production in nectar standing crop and secretion rate were investigated in Geranium sylvaticum, a gynodioecious plant species with protandry (i.e. with hermaphrodite flowers releasing their pollen before the stigma is receptive). We found that flowers from hermaphrodites produced more nectar than female flowers in terms of total nectar sugar content. In addition, differences in nectar production among floral phases were found in hermaphrodite flowers but not in female flowers. In hermaphrodite flowers, maximum sugar content coincided with pollen presentation and declined slightly towards the female phase, indicating nectar reabsorption, whereas in female flowers sugar content did not differ between the floral phases. These differences in floral reward are discussed in relation to visitation patterns by pollinators and seed production in this species.
Background and Aims
Animal pollination is typically an uncertain process that interacts with self-incompatibility status to determine reproductive success. Seed set is often pollen-limited, but species with late-acting self-incompatibility (SI) may be particularly vulnerable, if self-pollen deposition results in ovule discounting. Pollination is examined and the occurrence of late-acting SI and ovule discounting assessed in Cyrtanthus breviflorus.
The pollination system was characterized by observing floral visitors and assessing nectar production and spectral reflectance of flowers. To assess late-acting SI and ovule discounting, growth of self- and cross-pollen tubes, and seed set following open pollination or hand pollination with varying proportions of self- and cross-pollen, were examined.
Native honeybees Apis mellifera scutellata pollinated flowers as they actively collected pollen. Most flowers (≥70 %) did not contain nectar, while the rest produced minute volumes of dilute nectar. The flowers which are yellow to humans are visually conspicuous to bees with a strong contrast between UV-reflecting tepals and UV-absorbing anthers and pollen. Plants were self-incompatible, but self-rejection was late-acting and both self- and cross-pollen tubes penetrated ovules. Seed set of open-pollinated flowers was pollen-limited, despite pollen deposition exceeding ovule number by 6-fold. Open-pollinated seed set was similar to that of the cross + self-pollen treatment, but was less than that of the cross-pollen-only treatment.
Flowers of C. breviflorus are pollinated primarily by pollen-collecting bees and possess a late-acting SI system, previously unknown in this clade of the Amaryllidaceae. Pollinators of C. breviflorus deposit mixtures of cross- and self-pollen and, because SI is late-acting, self-pollen disables ovules, reducing female fertility. This study thus contributes to growing evidence that seed production in plants with late-acting SI systems is frequently limited by pollen quality, even when pollinators are abundant.
Amarydillaceae; Cyrtanthus breviflorus; honeybee pollination; late-acting self-incompatibility; ovule discounting; pollen limitation; pollen quantity and quality
Background and Aims
The number of flowers blooming simultaneously on a plant may have profound consequences for reproductive success. Large floral displays often attract more pollinator visits, increasing outcross pollen receipt. However, pollinators frequently probe more flowers in sequence on large displays, potentially increasing self-pollination and reducing pollen export per flower. To better understand how floral display size influences male and female fitness, we manipulated display phenotypes and then used paternity analysis to quantify siring success and selfing rates.
To facilitate unambiguous assignment of paternity, we established four replicate (cloned) arrays of Mimulus ringens, each consisting of genets with unique combinations of homozygous marker genotypes. In each array, we trimmed displays to two, four, eight or 16 flowers. When fruits ripened, we counted the number of seeds per fruit and assigned paternity to 1935 progeny.
Siring success per flower declined sharply with increasing display size, while female success per flower did not vary with display. The rate of self-fertilization increased for large floral displays, but siring losses due to geitonogamous pollen discounting were much greater than siring gains through increased self-fertilization. As display size increased, each additional seed sired through geitonogamous self-pollination was associated with a loss of 9·7 seeds sired through outcrossing.
Although total fitness increased with floral display size, the marginal return on each additional flower declined steadily as display size increased. Therefore, a plant could maximize fitness by producing small displays over a long flowering period, rather than large displays over a brief flowering period.
Bumble-bee; floral display size; functional gender; geitonogamy; male selfing rate; mating system; Mimulus ringens; paternity analysis; pollen discounting; pollination; self-fertilization; siring success
The spatial context of reproduction is of crucial importance to plants because of their sessile habit. Since pollen and seed dispersal is often restricted, mating success is likely to depend on the quantity and quality of mates in local neighbourhoods. Here we use neighbourhood models to investigate the spatial ecology of pollination and mating in Narcissus assoanus, a sexually polymorphic plant with two mating morphs that differ in style length. By mapping individuals in eight populations from southwestern France, we investigated the influence of the density and morph identity of plants at different spatial scales on variation in female fertility. By using inferences on the expected patterns of pollen transfer based on floral morphology, we were able to predict the quantitative relations between local morph ratios and variation in fertility. Our analyses revealed differences in the spatial clustering of morphs and in their response to plant density and morph identity within local neighbourhoods. Mating success in N. assoanus was characterized by both density- and frequency-dependent processes, a condition that may be a general feature of the spatial ecology of plant mating.
mating success; neighbourhood model; style-morph ratios; sexual polymorphism; spatial pattern
Dimorphic cleistogamy is a specialized form of mixed mating system where a single plant produces both open, potentially outcrossed chasmogamous (CH) and closed, obligately self-pollinated cleistogamous (CL) flowers. Typically, CH flowers and seeds are bigger and energetically more costly than those of CL. Although the effects of inbreeding and floral dimorphism are critical to understanding the evolution and maintenance of cleistogamy, these effects have been repeatedly confounded. In an attempt to separate these effects, we compared the performance of progeny derived from the two floral morphs while controlling for the source of pollen. That is, flower type and pollen source effects were assessed by comparing the performance of progeny derived from selfed CH vs. CL and outcrossed CH vs. selfed CH flowers, respectively. The experiment was carried out with the herb Ruellia nudiflora under two contrasting light environments. Outcrossed progeny generally performed better than selfed progeny. However, inbreeding depression ranges from low (1%) to moderate (36%), with the greatest value detected under shaded conditions when cumulative fitness was used. Although flower type generally had less of an effect on progeny performance than pollen source did, the progeny derived from selfed CH flowers largely outperformed the progeny from CL flowers, but only under shaded conditions and when cumulative fitness was taken into account. On the other hand, the source of pollen and flower type influenced seed predation, with selfed CH progeny the most heavily attacked by predators. Therefore, the effects of pollen source and flower type are environment-dependant and seed predators may increase the genetic differences between progeny derived from CH and CL flowers. Inbreeding depression alone cannot account for the maintenance of a mixed mating system in R. nudiflora and other unidentified mechanisms must thus be involved.
Nectar robbers are thought rarely to pollinate flowers, especially those with sexual organs hidden within corollas. In this study, we examined whether robbers pollinate flowers of distylous Primula secundiflora. Distylous plants have two floral morphs. Pin flowers have long styles and short stamens, and thrum flowers have short styles and long stamens. Flowers of P. secundiflora were commonly robbed by bumble-bees, and robbing holes were always situated between high and low sexual organs for both floral morphs. We observed that pollen grains of pin flowers were removed while thrum flowers received fresh pollen grains immediately after flowers were robbed. We manipulated flowers so that only nectar robbers could visit them. This resulted in 98 per cent of thrum flowers and 6 per cent of pin flowers setting fruit, and seed number per thrum fruit was also significantly higher than per pin fruit. Our findings suggest that nectar robbers transfer pollen from pin flowers to thrum flowers effectively, and consequently increase male fitness of the pin morph and female fitness of the thrum morph. Such asymmetrical pollen flow caused by nectar robbers may act as an important selective agent in floral fitness and evolution of distyly.
nectar robbing; distyly; reciprocity; robber-like pollinator
• Background and Aims The floral display influences the composition of pollinators interacting with a plant species. Geographic and temporal variation in pollinator composition complicates the understanding of the evolutionary consequences of floral display variation. This paper analyses the relationships between Silene acutifolia, a hermaphroditic perennial herb, and its pollinators, based on field studies in the north-west of Spain.
• Methods Studies were conducted over three years (1997–1999). Firstly, the main pollinators of this species were determined for two years in one population. Secondly, pollen limitation in fruit and seed production was analysed by supplementary hand pollinations, and counting the pollen grains and tubes growing in styles for two different-sized populations. Finally, the effect of flower size and number on the rate of visitation and total seed number was examined for 15 marked plants.
• Results and Conclusions The primary pollinators were long-tongued insects, including Hymenoptera, Lepidoptera and Diptera, but the composition and visitation frequencies differed between years. Pollen limitation occurred in one of the years of study. There was between-population variation in the number of pollen grains and pollen tubes found in styles, suggesting pollen limitation in one population. Overall, pollinators visited plants with more open flowers more frequently, and pollinated more flowers within these plants. Conversely, petal and calyx sizes had no effect on insect visitation. Plants with higher rates of visits produced higher number of seeds, suggesting that pollinator-mediated limitation of seed and fruit production may be important in some years.
Anthophora; Bombus; Caryophyllaceae; female reproductive success; floral display; mutualism; pollen limitations; pollination ecology; Silene acutifolia
Pollen limitation is predicted to be particularly severe in tundra habitats. Numerous reproductive patterns associated with alpine and arctic species, particularly mechanisms associated with reproductive assurance, are suggested to be driven by high levels of pollen limitation. We studied the reproductive ecology of Parrya nudicaulis, a species with relatively large sexual reproductive investment and a wide range of floral pigmentation, in tundra habitats in interior montane Alaska to estimate the degree of pollen limitation. The plants are self-compatible and strongly protandrous, setting almost no seed in the absence of pollinators. Supplemental hand pollinations within pollinator exclusion cages indicated no cage effect on seed production. Floral visitation rates were low in both years of study and particularly infrequent in 2010. A diversity of insects visited P. nudicaulis, though syrphid and muscid flies composed the majority of all visits. Pollen-ovule ratios and levels of heterozygosity are consistent with a mixed mating system. Pollen limitation was severe; hand pollinations increased seed production per plant five-fold. Seed-to-ovule ratios remained low following hand pollinations, indicating resource limitation is likely to also be responsible for curtailing seed set. We suggest that pollen limitation in P. nudicaulis may be the result of selection favoring an overproduction of ovules as a bet-hedging strategy in this environmental context of highly variable pollen receipt.
Background and Aims
Floral scent may play a key role as a selective attractant in plants with specialized pollination systems, particularly in cases where floral morphology does not function as a filter of flower visitors. The pollination systems of two African Eucomis species (E. autumnalis and E. comosa) were investigated and a test was made of the importance of scent and visual cues as floral attractants.
Methods and Key Results
Visitor observations showed that E. autumnalis and E. comosa are visited primarily by pompilid wasps belonging to the genus Hemipepsis. These wasps carry considerably more Eucomis pollen and are more active on flowers than other visiting insects. Furthermore, experiments involving virgin flowers showed that these insects are capable of depositing pollen on the stigmas of E. autumnalis, and, in the case of E. comosa, pollen deposited during a single visit is sufficient to result in seed set. Experimental hand-pollinations showed that both species are genetically self-incompatible and thus reliant on pollinators for seed set. Choice experiments conducted in the field and laboratory with E. autumnalis demonstrated that pompilid wasps are attracted to flowers primarily by scent and not visual cues. Measurement of spectral reflectance by flower petals showed that flowers are cryptically coloured and are similar to the background vegetation. Analysis of headspace scent samples using coupled gas chromatography–mass spectrometry revealed that E. autumnalis and E. comosa scents are dominated by aromatic and monoterpene compounds. One hundred and four volatile compounds were identified in the floral scent of E. autumnalis and 83 in the floral scent of E. comosa, of which 57 were common to the scents of both species.
This study showed that E. autumnalis and E. comosa are specialized for pollination by pompilid wasps in the genus Hemipepsis and achieve specialization through cryptic colouring and the use of scent as a selective floral attractant.
Eucomis; Pompilidae; wasp pollination; breeding system; pollination syndrome; pollinator shift; floral volatile; floral filter
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
Due to the spatial separation between male and female pollen grains from the anther of most flowering plants, including orchids, pollens are transported by wind or animals and deposited onto the receptive surface of the stigma of a different plant. However, self-pollination is common in pollinating animal-scarce habitats. In such habitats, self-pollinations require the assistance of a pollinating agent (e.g., wind, gravity, or floral assembly) to transport the pollen grains from the anther onto its own stigma.
Based on observations on floral morphology and flowering phenology, tests of the breeding system, and a comparison of pollination mechanisms, a new self-pollination process was discovered in the hermaphroditic (i.e., possessing spatially separated male and female organs) flower of a slipper orchid, Paphiopedilum parishii. The anther changes from a solid to a liquid state and directly steps onto the stigma surface without the aid of any pollinating agent or floral assembly.
The mode of self-pollination discussed here is a new addition to the broad range of genetic and morphological mechanisms that have evolved in flowering plants to ensure their reproductive success. The present self-contained pollination mechanism is a possible adaptation to the insect-scarce habitat of the orchid.
• Background and Aims Most plant species are visited by a diversity of floral visitors. Pollen transfer of the four most common pollinating bee species and one nectar-robbing bee of the distylous plant Gelsemium sempervirens were compared.
• Methods Naturally occurring pollen loads carried by the common floral visitor species of G. sempervirens were compared. In addition, dyed pollen donor flowers and sequences of four emasculated recipient flowers in field cages were used to estimate pollen transfer, and the utility of fluorescent dye powder as an analogue for pollen transfer was determined.
• Key Results Xylocopa virginica, Osmia lignaria and Habropoda laboriosa carried the most G. sempervirens pollen on their bodies, followed by Bombus bimaculatus and Apis mellifera. However, B. bimaculatus, O. lignaria and H. laboriosa transferred significantly more pollen than A. mellifera. Nectar-robbing X. virginica transferred the least pollen, even when visiting legitimately. Dye particles were strongly correlated with pollen grains on a stigma, and therefore provide a good analogue for pollen in this system. The ratio of pollen : dye across stigmas was not affected by bee species or interactions between bee species and floral morphology. However, dye transfer was more sensitive than pollen transfer to differences in floral morphology.
• Conclusions The results from this study add to a growing body of literature highlighting that floral visitors vary in pollination effectiveness, and that visitors carrying the most pollen on their bodies may not always be the most efficient at depositing pollen on stigmas. Understanding the magnitude of variability in pollinator quality is one important factor for predicting how different pollinator taxa may influence the evolution of floral traits.
Apis mellifera; Bombus bimaculatus; fluorescent dye; Gelsemium sempervirens; gene flow; Habropoda laboriosa; heterostyly; honey bee; nectar robber; Osmia lignaria; pollen transfer; Xylocopa virginica
Growing concern about the influence of climate change on flowering plants, pollinators, and the mutualistic interactions between them has led to a recent surge in research. Much of this research has addressed the consequences of warming for phenological and distributional shifts. In contrast, relatively little is known about the physiological responses of plants and insect pollinators to climate warming and, in particular, how these responses might affect plant-pollinator interactions. Here, we summarize the direct physiological effects of temperature on flowering plants and pollinating insects to highlight ways in which plant and pollinator responses could affect floral resources for pollinators, and pollination success for plants, respectively. We also consider the overall effects of these responses on plant-pollinator interaction networks. Plant responses to warming, which include altered flower, nectar, and pollen production, could modify floral resource availability and reproductive output of pollinating insects. Similarly, pollinator responses, such as altered foraging activity, body size, and life span, could affect patterns of pollen flow and pollination success of flowering plants. As a result, network structure could be altered as interactions are gained and lost, weakened and strengthened, even without the gain or loss of species or temporal overlap. Future research that addresses not only how plant and pollinator physiology are affected by warming but also how responses scale up to affect interactions and networks should allow us to better understand and predict the effects of climate change on this important ecosystem service
Mutualism; Networks; Plant-pollinator interactions; Pollination; Temperature; Thermoregulation
Background and Aims
Herbivory on floral structures has been postulated to influence the evolution of floral traits in some plant species, and may also be an important factor influencing the occurrence and outcome of subsequent biotic interactions related to floral display. In particular, corolla herbivory may affect structures differentially involved in flower selection by pollinators and fruit predators (specifically, those ovopositing in ovaries prior to fruit development); hence floral herbivores may influence the relationships between these mutualistic and antagonistic agents.
The effects of corolla herbivory in Linaria lilacina (Scrophulariaceae), a plant species with complex flowers, were considered in relation to plant interactions with pollinators and fruit predators. Tests were made as to whether experimentally created differences in flower structure (resembling those occurring naturally) may translate into differences in reproductive output in terms of fruit or seed production.
Flowers with modified corollas, particularly those with lower lips removed, were less likely to be selected by pollinators than control flowers, and were less likely to be successfully visited and pollinated. As a consequence, fruit production was also less likely in these modified flowers. However, none of the experimental treatments affected the likelihood of visitation by fruit predators.
Since floral herbivory may affect pollinator visitation rates and reduce seed production, differences among plants in the proportion of flowers affected by herbivory and in the intensity of the damage inflicted on affected flowers may result in different opportunities for reproduction for plants in different seasons.
Complex flowers; corolla herbivory; Linaria lilacina; pollination success; fruit predation
Background and Aims
Resource allocation to flowers, fruits and seeds can vary greatly within an inflorescence. For example, distal fruits are often smaller and produce fewer and smaller fruits and seeds than more basal fruits. To assess the causes and functional significance of intra-inflorescence variation, pollen and resources were manipulated to test whether such patterns could be altered within racemes of Stylidum armeria, a perennial Australian herb.
Pollen and resource levels were manipulated over two flowering seasons. How the number of ovules, fertilized ovules and seeds, the probability of fruit set, and the biomass of floral and fruiting structures varied with their position on the raceme were analysed.
Most plants showed a decline in ovule and seed number toward the distal positions on the raceme, but plants differed in their pattern of intra-inflorescence allocation: racemes with greater investment in basal fruits displayed a stronger trade-off with distal investment than did racemes that made smaller initial investments. This trade-off was (a) much stronger for ovule number than for seed number, (b) ameliorated but not erased by resource addition, and (c) exacerbated by resource reduction. There was large and seemingly erratic variation across fruit positions in ovule fertilization and seed set following both natural and supplemental pollination.
In S. armeria, allocation to reproductive traits within the inflorescence is influenced by dynamic trade-offs in resource allocation between early and late fruits, and may also be subject to inherent architectural effects. Large, unpredictable variation among fruits in fertilization success and seed set may influence the evolution of inflorescence size, ovule number and floral dimorphism.
Architectural effects; floral biomass; intra-inflorescence; pollen limitation; resource pre-emption; Stylidium armeria