Background and aims
Pollination-induced floral changes, which have been widely documented in flowering plants, have been assumed to enhance the plant's reproductive success. However, our understanding of the causes and consequences of these changes is still limited. Using an alpine gynodioecious species, Cyananthus delavayi, we investigated the factors affecting floral closure and estimated the fitness consequences of floral closure.
The timings of floral closure and fertilization were determined. The effects of pollen load, pollen type (cross- or self-pollen) and floral morph (female or perfect flower) on the occurrence of floral closure were examined. Ovule fertilization and seed production were examined to investigate the causes and consequences of floral closure. Flowers were manipulated to prevent closing to detect potential benefits for female fitness.
Floral closure, which could be induced by a very low pollen load, occurred within 4–7 h after pollination, immediately following fertilization. The proportion of closed flowers was influenced by pollen load and floral morph, but not by pollen type. Floral closure was more likely to occur in flowers with a higher proportion of fertilized ovules, but there was no significant difference in seed production between closed and open flowers. Those flowers in which closure was induced by natural pollination had low fruit set and seed production. Additionally, seed production was not influenced by closing-prevented manipulation when sufficient pollen deposition was received.
The occurrence of floral closure may be determined by the proportion of fertilized ovules, but this response can be too sensitive to ensure sufficient pollen deposition and can, to some extent, lead to a cost in female fitness. These results implied that the control of floral receptivity by the recipient flowers does not lead to an optimal fitness gain in C. delavayi.