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1.  Do pollinator distributions underlie the evolution of pollination ecotypes in the Cape shrub Erica plukenetii? 
Annals of Botany  2013;113(2):301-316.
Background and Aims
According to the Grant–Stebbins model of pollinator-driven divergence, plants that disperse beyond the range of their specialized pollinator may adapt to a new pollination system. Although this model provides a compelling explanation for pollination ecotype formation, few studies have directly tested its validity in nature. Here we investigate the distribution and pollination biology of several subspecies of the shrub Erica plukenetii from the Cape Floristic Region in South Africa. We analyse these data in a phylogenetic context and combine these results with information on pollinator ranges to test whether the evolution of pollination ecotypes is consistent with the Grant–Stebbins model.
Methods and Key Results
Pollinator observations showed that the most common form of E. plukenetii with intermediate corolla length is pollinated by short-billed Orange-breasted sunbirds. Populations at the northern fringe of the distribution are characterized by long corollas, and are mainly pollinated by long-billed Malachite sunbirds. A population with short corollas in the centre of the range was mainly pollinated by insects, particularly short-tongued noctuid moths. Bird exclusion in this population did not have an effect on fruit set, while insect exclusion reduced fruit set. An analysis of floral scent across the range, using coupled gas chromatography–mass spectrometry, showed that the scent bouquets of flowers from moth-pollinated populations are characterized by a larger number of scent compounds and higher emission rates than those in bird-pollinated populations. This was also reflected in clear separation of moth- and bird-pollinated populations in a two-dimensional phenotype space based on non-metric multidimensional scaling analysis of scent data. Phylogenetic analyses of chloroplast and nuclear DNA sequences strongly supported monophyly of E. plukenetii, but not of all the subspecies. Reconstruction of ancestral character states suggests two shifts from traits associated with short-billed Orange-breasted sunbird pollination: one towards traits associated with moth pollination, and one towards traits associated with pollination by long-billed Malachite sunbirds. The latter shift coincided with the colonization of Namaqualand in which Orange-breasted sunbirds are absent.
Conclusions Erica plukenetii
is characterized by three pollination ecotypes, but only the evolutionary transition from short- to long-billed sunbird pollination can be clearly explained by the Grant–Stebbins model. Corolla length is a key character for both ecotype transitions, while floral scent emission was important for the transition from bird to moth pollination.
PMCID: PMC3890384  PMID: 24071499
Helicoverpa armigera; speciation; benzene propanoids; phylogeny; niche; floral scent; bird pollination; floral trait; ancestral character state; Erica plukenetii; pollination ecotype; Cape flora
2.  A pollinator shift explains floral divergence in an orchid species complex in South Africa 
Annals of Botany  2013;113(2):277-288.
Background and Aims
Floral diversification driven by shifts between pollinators has been one of the key explanations for the radiation of angiosperms. According to the Grant–Stebbins model of pollinator-driven speciation, these shifts result in morphologically distinct ‘ecotypes’ which may eventually become recognizable as species. The current circumscription of the food-deceptive southern African orchid Eulophia parviflora encompasses a highly variable monophyletic species complex. In this study, two forms were identified within this complex that differ in distribution, floral morphology, scent chemistry and phenology, and a test was made of whether these differences represent adaptations for different pollinators.
Methods and Results
Multivariate analysis of floral and vegetative traits revealed that there are at least two discrete morphological forms in the species complex. Field observations revealed that each form is pollinated by a different insect species, and thus represent distinct ecotypes. The early-flowering coastal form which has long spurs and floral scent dominated by sesquiterpene compounds is pollinated exclusively by the long-tongued bee Amegilla fallax (Apidae, Anthophorinae), while the late-flowering inland form with short spurs and floral scent dominated by benzenoid compounds is pollinated exclusively by the beetle Cyrtothyrea marginalis (Cetoniinae; Scarabaeidae). Choice experiments in a Y-maze olfactometer showed that beetles are preferentially attracted to the scent of the short-spurred form. A spur-shortening experiment showed that long spurs are required for effective pollination of the bee-pollinated form. Although it was initially thought likely that divergence occurred across a geographical pollinator gradient, plants of the long-spurred form were effectively pollinated when transplanted to an inland locality outside the natural coastal range of this form. Thus, the underlying geographical basis for the evolution of ecotypes in the E. parviflora complex remains uncertain, although early flowering in the long-spurred form to exploit the emergence of naïve bees may restrict this form to coastal areas where there is no frost that would damage flower buds. Later flowering of the short-spurred form coincides closely with the emergence of the pollinating beetles following winter frosts.
This study identifies a shift between bee and beetle pollination as the main driver of floral divergence in an orchid species complex. Floral scent and spur length appear to be key traits in mediating this evolutionary transition.
PMCID: PMC3890387  PMID: 24107684
Grant–Stebbins model; pollinator-driven speciation; pollination ecotypes; scent; Eulophia; Orchidaceae; phenology; beetle pollination; Cetoniinae; bee pollination; Y-maze olfactometer; Amegilla
3.  Pollinator-driven ecological speciation in plants: new evidence and future perspectives 
Annals of Botany  2014;113(2):199-212.
The hypothesis that pollinators have been important drivers of angiosperm diversity dates back to Darwin, and remains an important research topic today. Mounting evidence indicates that pollinators have the potential to drive diversification at several different stages of the evolutionary process. Microevolutionary studies have provided evidence for pollinator-mediated floral adaptation, while macroevolutionary evidence supports a general pattern of pollinator-driven diversification of angiosperms. However, the overarching issue of whether, and how, shifts in pollination system drive plant speciation represents a critical gap in knowledge. Bridging this gap is crucial to fully understand whether pollinator-driven microevolution accounts for the observed macroevolutionary patterns. Testable predictions about pollinator-driven speciation can be derived from the theory of ecological speciation, according to which adaptation (microevolution) and speciation (macroevolution) are directly linked. This theory is a particularly suitable framework for evaluating evidence for the processes underlying shifts in pollination systems and their potential consequences for the evolution of reproductive isolation and speciation.
This Viewpoint paper focuses on evidence for the four components of ecological speciation in the context of plant-pollinator interactions, namely (1) the role of pollinators as selective agents, (2) floral trait divergence, including the evolution of ‘pollination ecotypes‘, (3) the geographical context of selection on floral traits, and (4) the role of pollinators in the evolution of reproductive isolation. This Viewpoint also serves as the introduction to a Special Issue on Pollinator-Driven Speciation in Plants. The 13 papers in this Special Issue range from microevolutionary studies of ecotypes to macroevolutionary studies of historical ecological shifts, and span a wide range of geographical areas and plant families. These studies further illustrate innovative experimental approaches, and they employ modern tools in genetics and floral trait quantification. Future advances to the field require better quantification of selection through male fitness and pollinator isolation, for instance by exploiting next-generation sequencing technologies. By combining these new tools with strategically chosen study systems, and smart experimental design, we predict that examples of pollinator-driven speciation will be among the most widespread and compelling of all cases of ecological speciation.
PMCID: PMC3890394  PMID: 24418954
Geography; floral odour; flower colour; flower shape; specialization; reproductive isolation; next-generation sequencing; pollination ecotypes; pollination; nectar tube; adaptation; natural selection; geographical mosaic of selection; Grant–Stebbins model
4.  The evolution of floral nectaries in Disa (Orchidaceae: Disinae): recapitulation or diversifying innovation? 
Annals of Botany  2013;112(7):1303-1319.
Background and Aims
The Orchidaceae have a history of recurring convergent evolution in floral function as nectar production has evolved repeatedly from an ancestral nectarless state. However, orchids exhibit considerable diversity in nectary type, position and morphology, indicating that this convergence arose from alternative adaptive solutions. Using the genus Disa, this study asks whether repeated evolution of floral nectaries involved recapitulation of the same nectary type or diversifying innovation. Epidermis morphology of closely related nectar-producing and nectarless species is also compared in order to identify histological changes that accompanied the gain or loss of nectar production.
The micromorphology of nectaries and positionally equivalent tissues in nectarless species was examined with light and scanning electron microscopy. This information was subjected to phylogenetic analyses to reconstruct nectary evolution and compare characteristics of nectar-producing and nectarless species.
Key Results
Two nectary types evolved in Disa. Nectar exudation by modified stomata in floral spurs evolved twice, whereas exudation by a secretory epidermis evolved six times in different perianth segments. The spur epidermis of nectarless species exhibited considerable micromorphological variation, including strongly textured surfaces and non-secreting stomata in some species. Epidermis morphology of nectar-producing species did not differ consistently from that of rewardless species at the magnifications used in this study, suggesting that transitions from rewardlessness to nectar production are not necessarily accompanied by visible morphological changes but only require sub-cellular modification.
Independent nectary evolution in Disa involved both repeated recapitulation of secretory epidermis, which is present in the sister genus Brownleea, and innovation of stomatal nectaries. These contrasting nectary types and positional diversity within types imply weak genetic, developmental or physiological constraints in ancestral, nectarless Disa. Such functional convergence generated by morphologically diverse solutions probably also underlies the extensive diversity of nectary types and positions in the Orchidaceae.
PMCID: PMC3806529  PMID: 23997231
Disa; Disinae; Orchidaceae; orchid; deceit pollination; modified stoma; nectar; nectary; reward; rewardless; evolution; functional convergence
5.  Patterns of odour emission, thermogenesis and pollinator activity in cones of an African cycad: what mechanisms apply? 
Annals of Botany  2013;112(5):891-902.
Background and Aims
Ontogenetic patterns of odour emissions and heating associated with plant reproductive structures may have profound effects on insect behaviour, and consequently on pollination. In some cycads, notably Macrozamia, temporal changes in emission of specific odour compounds and temperature have been interpreted as a ‘push–pull’ interaction in which pollinators are either attracted or repelled according to the concentration of the emitted volatiles. To establish which mechanisms occur in the large Encephalartos cycad clade, the temporal patterns of volatile emissions, heating and pollinator activity of cones of Encephalartos villosus in the Eastern Cape (EC) and KwaZulu Natal (KZN) of South Africa were investigated.
Methods and Key Results
Gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS) analyses of Encephalartos villosus cone volatiles showed that emissions, dominated by eucalyptol and 2-isopropyl-3-methoxypyrazine in EC populations and (3E)-1,3-octadiene and (3E,5Z)-1,3,5-octatriene in the KZN populations, varied across developmental stages but did not vary significantly on a daily cycle. Heating in male cones was higher at dehiscence than during pre- and post-dehiscence, and reached a maximum at about 1830 h when temperatures were between 7·0 and 12·0 °C above ambient. Daily heating of female cones was less pronounced and reached a maximum at about 1345 h when it was on average between 0·9 and 3·0 °C above ambient. Insect abundance on male cones was higher at dehiscence than at the other stages and significantly higher in the afternoon than in the morning and evening.
There are pronounced developmental changes in volatile emissions and heating in E. villosus cones, as well as strong daily changes in thermogenesis. Daily patterns of volatile emissions and pollinator abundance in E. villosus are different from those observed in some Macrozamia cycads and not consistent with the push–pull pattern as periods of peak odour emission do not coincide with mass exodus of insects from male cones.
PMCID: PMC3747810  PMID: 23887092
Encephalartos villosus; Zamiaceae; cycads; monoterpenes; developmental stages; nitrogen-containing compounds; unsaturated hydrocarbons; gas chromatography–mass spectrometry; push–pull; odour emission; floral volatiles; thermogensis; pollination
6.  Pollination function transferred: modified tepals of Albuca (Hyacinthaceae) serve as secondary stigmas 
Annals of Botany  2012;110(3):565-572.
Background and Aims
The stigma, a structure which serves as a site for pollen receipt and germination, has been assumed to have evolved once, as a modification of carpels, in early angiosperms. Here it is shown that a functional stigma has evolved secondarily from modified tepals in some Albuca species (Hyacinthaceae).
Deposition of pollen on Albuca floral organs by bees was recorded. Pollen germination and fruit set was measured in flowers that had pollen deposited solely on their tepals or had their tepal tips experimentally isolated or removed after pollination.
Key Results
Leafcutter bees deposit pollen onto the papillate apices of the inner tepals of Albuca flowers. Pollen germinates in tepal-derived fluid secreted 2 or 3 d after anthesis and pollen tubes subsequently penetrate the style during flower wilting. Application of cross-pollen to the inner tepal apices of A. setosa flowers led to high fruit set. No fruits were produced in pollinated flowers in which the inner tepals were mechanically isolated or removed.
Pollen capture by tepals in the Albuca clade probably evolved in response to selection for floral morphology that maximizes the accuracy of pollen transfer. These findings show how pollination function can be transferred among floral organs, and shed light on how the original angiosperm stigma developed from sporophylls.
PMCID: PMC3400444  PMID: 22652419
Hyacinthaceae; Ornithogaloideae; pollen; pollen germination; pollen receipt; pollen tube; pollination; sexual interference
7.  Floral traits mediate the vulnerability of aloes to pollen theft and inefficient pollination by bees 
Annals of Botany  2012;109(4):761-772.
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.
Key Results
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.
PMCID: PMC3286288  PMID: 22278414
Pollen theft; pollination efficiency; dichogamy; floral morphology; Aloe; Alooideae; Xanthorrhoeaceae; Asphodeloideae
8.  Carrion mimicry in a South African orchid: flowers attract a narrow subset of the fly assemblage on animal carcasses 
Annals of Botany  2011;107(6):981-992.
Background and Aims
Although pollination of plants that attract flies by resembling their carrion brood and food sites has been reported in several angiosperm families, there has been very little work done on the level of specificity in carrion mimicry systems and the importance of plant cues in mediating such specialization. Specificity may be expected, as carrion-frequenting flies often exploit different niches, which has been interpreted as avoidance of interspecific competition. Interactions between the orchid Satyrium pumilum and a local assemblage of carrion flies were investigated, and the functional significance of floral traits, especially scent, tested. Pollination success and the incidence of pollinator-mediated self-pollination were measured and these were compared with values for orchids with sexual- and food-deceptive pollination systems.
Methods and Key Results
Observations of insect visitation to animal carcasses and to flowers showed that the local assemblage of carrion flies was dominated by blow flies (Calliphoridae), house flies (Muscidae) and flesh flies (Sarcophagidae), but flowers of the orchid were pollinated exclusively by flesh flies, with a strong bias towards females that sometimes deposited live larvae on flowers. A trend towards similar partitioning of fly taxa was found in an experiment that tested the effect of large versus small carrion quantities on fly attraction. GC-MS analysis showed that floral scent is dominated by oligosulfides, 2-heptanone, p-cresol and indole, compounds that also dominate carrion scent. Flesh flies did not distinguish between floral and carrion scent in a choice experiment using olfactory cues only, which also showed that scent alone is responsible for fly attraction. Pollination success was relatively high (31·5 % of flowers), but tracking of stained pollinia also revealed that a relatively high percentage (46 %) of pollen deposited on stigmas originates from the same plant.
Satyrium pumilum selectively attracts flesh flies, probably because its relatively weak scent resembles that of the small carrion on which these flies predominate. In this way, the plants exploit a specific subset of the insect assemblage associated with carrion. Pollination rates and levels of self-pollination were high compared with those in other deceptive orchids and it is therefore unlikely that this mimicry system evolved to promote outcrossing.
PMCID: PMC3080630  PMID: 21402538
Calliphoridae; deception; floral scent; indole; oligosulfides; osmophore; outcrossing; p-cresol; Sarcophagidae; Satyrium pumilum; specialization
9.  Pollination and late-acting self-incompatibility in Cyrtanthus breviflorus (Amaryllidaceae): implications for seed production 
Annals of Botany  2010;106(4):547-555.
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.
Key Results
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.
PMCID: PMC2944973  PMID: 20647225
Amarydillaceae; Cyrtanthus breviflorus; honeybee pollination; late-acting self-incompatibility; ovule discounting; pollen limitation; pollen quantity and quality
10.  Reproductive biology of Acrolophia cochlearis (Orchidaceae): estimating rates of cross-pollination in epidendroid orchids 
Annals of Botany  2008;104(3):573-581.
Background and Aims
Pollen fates strongly influence mating success in plants but are difficult to quantify. By promoting foraging constancy in pollinators, floral rewards such as nectar may enhance the overall efficiency of pollen transfer. However, this can also lead to high levels of geitonogamy. Pollen fates were studied in Acrolophia cochlearis, a member of a terrestrial epidendroid orchid genus that includes both rewarding and deceptive species.
Pollinator observations were conducted. Pollen transfer efficiency (PTE), the proportion of removed pollinia deposited on stigmas, was measured in a large population at regular intervals throughout the 5-month flowering season. The level of cross-pollination in two populations was estimated from the percentage of seeds with embryos in naturally pollinated fruits.
Key Results
Acrolophia cochlearis (and a congener A. micrantha) produce minute but concentrated nectar rewards. Observations showed that A. cochlearis is pollinated exclusively by a solitary bee species, Colletes claripes. Although both sexes visited flowers, only males carried pollinaria. Overall levels of pollination and PTE of the rewarding A. cochlearis were much higher than in a deceptive congener, A. capensis. Seeds resulting from self-fertilization had a significantly lower probability of containing viable embryos than did those from cross-fertilization. This dichotomy in fruit quality was used to estimate that cross-pollination occurred in approx. 66 % of A. cochlearis flowers in a large dense population and approx. 10 % in a small sparse population. Traits of A. cochlearis that limit geitonogamy include pollinarium reconfiguration that exceeds the visit time of pollinators and rapid flower senescence following visitation.
Presence of a nectar reward in Acrolophia cochlearis results in high levels of PTE. It is estimated that approx. 33–90 % of fruits in natural populations arise from self-pollination in this species.
PMCID: PMC2720661  PMID: 19001427
Reward; deception; pollen transfer efficiency; pollen tracking; geitonogamy; Acrolophia cochlearis; epidendroid orchid; Cape floral region
11.  Pollination Systems of Colchicum (Colchicaceae) in Southern Africa: Evidence for Rodent Pollination 
Annals of Botany  2008;102(5):747-755.
Background and Aims
Plants adapted for pollination by rodents tend to exhibit a distinct floral syndrome that includes dull coloured and geoflorous inflorescences and nocturnal anthesis and nectar production. On the basis of their floral traits, it was predicted that two African Colchicum species (C. scabromarginatum and C. coloratum) are rodent-pollinated.
Field studies were carried out in the semi-arid Succulent Karoo region of South Africa. Live trapping of rodents was conducted and pollen loads on the rodents were quantified. The daily periodicity of nectar production was determined. Selective exclusion and controlled pollination experiments were also conducted.
Key Results
Live-trapped rodents were found to carry large amounts of Colchicum pollen on the fur of their snouts, and in their faeces. Birds were occasional pollinators of flowers of C. coloratum. During the evening, nectar volume and concentration increased for both species. When vertebrates were excluded from C. scabromarginatum and C. coloratum plants, there was a significant decrease in seed set compared with open control plants. By contrast, vertebrate exclusion did not significantly affect seed production of a congener, C. hantamense, which has floral traits associated with insect pollination. Breeding system experiments revealed that both C. scabromarginatum and C. coloratum require pollinators for seed production. Colchicum scabromarginatum is strictly self-incompatible, whereas C. coloratum is partially self-compatible.
Pollination by rodents occurs in two African Colchicum species. C. scabromarginatum appears to depend exclusively on rodents for seed production, while birds and autonomous selfing may contribute to seed production in C. coloratum. These are the first records of rodent pollination in the Colchicaceae.
PMCID: PMC2712380  PMID: 18723860
Convergent evolution; floral syndrome; pollination; rodents; birds; insects; Colchicum scabromarginatum; Colchicum coloratum; Succulent Karoo; southern Africa
12.  Is Eucalyptus Cryptically Self-incompatible? 
Annals of Botany  2007;100(6):1373-1378.
Background and Aims
The probability that seeds will be fertilized from self- versus cross-pollen depends strongly on whether plants have self-incompatibility systems, and how these systems influence the fate of pollen tubes.
In this study of breeding systems in Eucalyptus urophylla and Eucalyptus grandis, epifluorescence microscopy was used to study pollen tube growth in styles following self- and cross-pollinations.
Key Results
Pollen tubes from self-pollen took significantly longer than those from cross-pollen to grow to the base of the style in both E. urophylla (120 h vs. 96 h) and E. grandis (96 h vs. 72 h). In addition, both species exhibited reduced seed yields following self-pollination compared with cross-pollination.
The present observations suggest that, in addition to a late-acting self-incompatibility barrier, cryptic self-incompatibility could be a mechanism responsible for the preferential out-crossing system in these two eucalypt species.
PMCID: PMC2759262  PMID: 17881341
Eucalyptus urophylla; Eucalyptus grandis; epifluorescence microscopy; cryptic self-incompatibility

Results 1-12 (12)