Ecological correlates and genetic consequences of evolutionary transitions from distyly to homostyly.
ABSTRACT: Background and Aims:The outbreeding floral polymorphism heterostyly frequently breaks down, resulting in the evolution of self-fertilization as a result of homostyle formation. Here, the loss of floral polymorphism in distylous Primula oreodoxa, a sub-alpine species restricted to western Sichuan, China, was examined by investigating the ecological correlates and genetic consequences of mating system transitions. Several key questions were addressed. (1) What are the frequencies, geographical distribution and reproductive characteristics of floral morphs in distylous and homostylous populations? (2) Does increased elevation influence pollinator service and the likelihood of inbreeding in populations? (3) How often has homostyly originated and what are the consequences of the breakdown of distyly for the amounts and distribution of genetic diversity in populations? Methods:Fourteen populations throughout the range of P. oreodoxa were sampled, and morph frequencies and floral characteristics were recorded. Polymorphism at microsatellite loci and chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) variation were used to quantify population genetic structure and genetic relationships among populations. Controlled pollinations and studies of pollen tube growth and fertility were conducted to determine the compatibility status of populations and their facility for autonomous self-pollination. Finally, visitation rates of long- and short-tongued pollinators to distylous and homostylous populations at different elevations were compared to determine if increased elevation was associated with deterioration in pollinator service. Key Results:In contrast to most heterostylous species, both distylous and homostylous morphs of P. oreodoxa are highly self-compatible, but only homostyles have the facility for autonomous self-pollination. Homostyles set significantly more fruit and seeds following open pollination than the distylous morphs. Visitation by long-tongued pollinators was significantly lower in homostylous populations, and overall rates of insect visitation decreased with elevation. Genetic diversity was significantly lower in homostylous populations, with evidence of increased inbreeding at higher elevation. Patterns of cpDNA variation were consistent with multiple transitions from distyly to homostyly and limited gene flow among populations. Conclusions:The results of this study support the hypothesis that the multiple loss of floral polymorphism in distylous P. oreodoxa is associated with unsatisfactory pollinator service, with homostyles benefiting from reproductive assurance as a result of autonomous self-pollination.
Project description:The transition from outcrossing to selfing through the breakdown of distyly to homostyly has occurred repeatedly among families of flowering plants. Homostyles can originate by major gene changes at the S-locus linkage group, or by unlinked polygenic modifiers. Here, we investigate the inheritance of distyly and homostyly in Primula oreodoxa, a subalpine herb endemic to Sichuan, China. Controlled self- and cross-pollinations confirmed that P. oreodoxa unlike most heterostylous species is fully self-compatible. Segregation patterns indicated that the inheritance of distyly is governed by a single Mendelian locus with the short-styled morph carrying at least one dominant S-allele (S-) and long-styled plants homozygous recessive (ss). Crossing data were consistent with a model in which homostyly results from genetic changes at the distylous linkage group, with the homostylous allele (Sh) dominant to the long-styled allele (s), but recessive to the short-styled allele (S). Progeny tests of open-pollinated seed families revealed high rates of intermorph mating in the L-morph but considerable selfing and possibly intramorph mating in the S-morph and in homostyles. S-morph plants homozygous at the S-locus (SS) occurred in several populations but may experience viability selection. The crossing data from distylous and homostylous plants are consistent with either recombination at the S-locus governing distyly, or mutation at gene(s) controlling sex-organ height; both models predict the same patterns of segregation. Recent studies on the molecular genetics of distyly in Primula demonstrating the hemizygous nature of genes at the S-locus make it more likely that homostyles have resulted from mutation rather than recombination.
Project description:Plant responses induced by herbivore damage can provide fitness benefits, but can also have important costs due to altered interactions with mutualist pollinators. We examined the effects of plant responses to herbivory in a hummingbird-pollinated distylous shrub, Palicourea angustifolia. Through a series of field experiments we investigated whether damage from foliar herbivores leads to a reduction in fruit set, influences floral visitation, or alters floral traits that may influence pollinator preference or pollinator efficiency. Foliar herbivory by a generalist grasshopper led to reduced fruit set in branches that were directly damaged as well as in adjacent undamaged branches on the same plant. Furthermore, herbivory resulted in reduced floral visitation from two common hummingbird species and two bee species. An investigation into the potential mechanisms behind reduced floral visitation in induced plants showed that foliar herbivore damage resulted in shorter styles and lower nectar volumes. This reduction in style length could reduce pollen deposition between different floral morphs that is required for optimal pollination in a distylous plant. We did not detect any differences in the volatile blends released by damaged and undamaged branches, suggesting that foliar herbivore-induced changes in floral morphology and rewards, and not volatile blends, are the primary mechanism mediating changes in visitation. Our results provide novel mechanisms for how plant responses induced by foliar herbivores can lead to ecological costs.
Project description:BACKGROUNDS AND AIMS:The spatial separation of stigmas and anthers (herkogamy) in flowering plants functions to reduce self-pollination and avoid interference between pollen dispersal and receipt. Little is known about the evolutionary relationships among the three main forms of herkogamy - approach, reverse and reciprocal herkogamy (distyly) - or about transitions to and from a non-herkogamous condition. This problem was examined in Exochaenium (Gentianaceae), a genus of African herbs that exhibits considerable variation in floral morphology, including the three forms of herkogamy. METHODS:Using maximum parsimony and maximum likelihood methods, the evolutionary history of herkogamic and non-herkogamic conditions was reconstructed from a molecular phylogeny of 15 species of Exochaenium and four outgroup taxa, based on three chloroplast regions, the nuclear ribosomal internal transcribed spacer (ITS1 and 2) and the 5·8S gene. Ancestral character states were determined and the reconstructions were used to evaluate competing models for the origin of reciprocal herkogamy. KEY RESULTS:Reciprocal herkogamy originated once in Exochaenium from an ancestor with approach herkogamy. Reverse herkogamy and the non-herkogamic condition homostyly were derived from heterostyly. Distylous species possessed pendent, slightly zygomorphic flowers, and the single transition to reverse herkogamy was associated with the hawkmoth pollination syndrome. Reductions in flower size characterized three of four independent transitions from reciprocal herkogamy to homostyly. CONCLUSIONS:The results support Lloyd and Webb's model in which distyly originated from an ancestor with approach herkogamy. They also demonstrate the lability of sex organ deployment and implicate pollinators, or their absence, as playing an important role in driving transitions among herkogamic and non-herkogamic conditions.
Project description:BACKGROUND AND AIMS:Because distylous species have two hermaphroditic style-length floral morphs, they face two sex allocation problems: the equilibrium morph ratio and the optimal allocation to pollen and seed production in each floral morph. Gender specialization is expected among distylous species when floral morphs differ in reproductive output. However, spatio-temporal variability in female reproductive output between morphs needs to be investigated to fully understand patterns of sexual expression and gender specialization in distylous plants. Between-year variation in flower and fruit production of hummingbird-pollinated Palicourea padifolia (Rubiaceae) was examined, focusing on functional gender expression of long- and short-styled morphs and comparing their reproductive performance in five consecutive years (1998-2002). METHODS:Between-year variation in inflorescence, floral bud and fruit production was monitored and quantified. These traits were then used as parameters to determine functional gender differences between floral morphs through time. KEY RESULTS:Inflorescence production varied among years but no significant differences were found between floral morphs. Long-styled plants initiated more floral buds per inflorescence every year than short-styled plants, suggesting higher allocation to pollinator attraction and, potentially, an increase in male fitness through pollen donation. Although fruit production was similar between morphs, their functional gender shifted across years. CONCLUSIONS:The gender expression inconsistency across years is surprising because a number of floral characters and attributes that contribute to differently attracting and rewarding effective pollinators in P. padifolia suggest gender specialization. The evidence that morphs of distylous species might specialize in functional gender mostly comes from differences among populations in seed production and non-equilibrium morph ratios based on 1-year field population surveys. The results suggest that more sampling through time is needed to detect gender specialization among distylous species with a perennial habit.
Project description:BACKGROUND AND AIMS:Sexually deceptive orchids achieve cross-pollination by mimicking the mating signals of female insects, generally hymenopterans. This pollination mechanism is often highly specific as it is based primarily on the mimicry of mating signals, especially the female sex pheromones of the targeted pollinator. Like many deceptive orchids, the Mediterranean species Ophrys arachnitiformis shows high levels of floral trait variation, especially in the colour of the perianth, which is either green or white/pinkinsh within populations. The adaptive significance of perianth colour polymorphism and its influence on pollinator visitation rates in sexually deceptive orchids remain obscure. METHODS:The relative importance of floral scent versus perianth colour in pollinator attraction in this orchid pollinator mimicry system was evaluated by performing floral scent analyses by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and behavioural bioassays with the pollinators under natural conditions were performed. KEY RESULTS:The relative and absolute amounts of behaviourally active compounds are identical in the two colour morphs of O. arachnitiformis. Neither presence/absence nor the colour of the perianth (green versus white) influence attractiveness of the flowers to Colletes cunicularius males, the main pollinator of O. arachnitiformis. CONCLUSION:Chemical signals alone can mediate the interactions in highly specialized mimicry systems. Floral colour polymorphism in O. arachnitiformis is not subjected to selection imposed by C. cunicularius males, and an interplay between different non-adaptive processes may be responsible for the maintenance of floral colour polymorphism both within and among populations.
Project description:Distyly is a widespread floral polymorphism characterized by the flowers within a population showing reciprocal placement of the anthers and stigma. Darwin hypothesizes that distyly evolves to promote precise pollen transfer between morphs. Primula chungensis exhibits two types of anther heights, and these two types of anthers show pollen of two different size classes. To understand whether the stigma could capture more pollen grains from the anthers of the pollen donor as the separation between the stigma of pollen receiver and the anther of pollen donor decreased, the present research assessed the source of the pollen load in a series of open-pollinated flowers with continuous variation of style lengths. Individuals with continuous variation of style length were tagged, and the selected flowers in the tagged plants were emasculated the day before dehiscence. The stigma of the emasculated flowers was fixed in fuchsin gel at the end of blooming. We assessed the pollen sources on each stigma by taking photos under a microscope and measured the diameter of each conspecific pollen grain with ImageJ. We found that a shorter distance from the stigmas to the anthers of a pollen donor gave the flower a higher capacity to receive pollen from those anthers. Our result provides a new evidence that distyly could promote the pollen transfer between morphs, which is consistent with Darwin's hypothesis of disassortative pollination. An alternative hypothesis for the evolution of distyly (e.g. selfing avoidance) might also be true, but less likely, because self-incompatibility would greatly avoid self-fertilization for many distylous species.
Project description:Differential visitation of pollinators due to divergent floral traits can lead to reproductive isolation via assortative pollen flow, which may ultimately be a driving force in plant speciation, particularly in areas of overlap. We evaluate the effects of pollinator behavioral responses to variation of intraspecific floral color and nectar rewards, on reproductive isolation between two hybrid flower color morphs (fuchsia and blue) and their parental species Penstemon roseus and P. gentianoides with a mixed-pollination system. We show that pollinators (bumblebees and hummingbirds) exhibit different behavioral responses to fuchsia and blue morphs, which could result from differential attraction or deterrence. In addition to differences in color (spectral reflectance), we found that plants with fuchsia flowers produced more and larger flowers, produced more nectar and were more visited by pollinators than those with blue flowers. These differences influenced the foraging behavior and effectiveness as pollinators of both bumblebees and hummingbirds, which contributed to reproductive isolation between the two hybrid flower color morphs and parental species. This study demonstrates how differentiation of pollination traits promotes the formation of hybrid zones leading to pollinator shifts and reproductive isolation. While phenotypic traits of fuchsia and red flowers might encourage more efficient hummingbird pollination in a mixed-pollination system, the costs of bumblebee pollination on plant reproduction could be the drivers for the repeated shifts from bumblebee- to hummingbird-mediated pollination.
Project description:Florivory, or damage to flowers by herbivores, can make flowers less attractive to pollinators, potentially resulting in reduced plant fitness. However, not many studies have combined observations with experiments to assess the causal link between florivory and pollination. We conducted field observations at eight sites in northern California, combined with field experiments that involved artificial floral damage, to study the effect of florivory on pollination in the hummingbird-pollinated sticky monkeyflower, Mimulus aurantiacus We used two indicators of pollinator visitation, stigma closure and the presence of microorganisms in floral nectar. The field observations revealed that stigma closure was less frequent in damaged flowers than in intact flowers. In the experiments, however, floral damage did not decrease stigma closure or microbial detection in nectar. Instead, neighbouring flowers were similar for both indicators. These results suggest that the observed negative association between florivory and pollination is not causal and that the location of flowers is more important to pollinator visitation than florivory in these populations of M. aurantiacus.
Project description:BACKGROUND AND AIMS:Studies of the effects of pollination on floral scent and bee visitation remain rare, particularly in agricultural crops. To fill this gap, the hypothesis that bee visitation to flowers decreases after pollination through reduced floral volatile emissions in highbush blueberries, Vaccinium corymbosum, was tested. Other sources of variation in floral emissions and the role of floral volatiles in bee attraction were also examined. METHODS:Pollinator visitation to blueberry flowers was manipulated by bagging all flowers within a bush (pollinator excluded) or leaving them unbagged (open pollinated), and then the effect on floral volatile emissions and future bee visitation were measured. Floral volatiles were also measured from different blueberry cultivars, times of the day and flower parts, and a study was conducted to test the attraction of bees to floral volatiles. KEY RESULTS:Open-pollinated blueberry flowers had 32 % lower volatile emissions than pollinator-excluded flowers. In particular, cinnamyl alcohol, a major component of the floral blend that is emitted exclusively from petals, was emitted in lower quantities from open-pollinated flowers. Although, no differences in cinnamyl alcohol emissions were detected among three blueberry cultivars or at different times of day, some components of the blueberry floral blend were emitted in higher amounts from certain cultivars and at mid-day. Field observations showed that more bees visited bushes with pollinator-excluded flowers. Also, more honey bees were caught in traps baited with a synthetic blueberry floral blend than in unbaited traps. CONCLUSIONS:Greater volatile emissions may help guide bees to unpollinated flowers, and thus increase plant fitness and bee energetic return when foraging in blueberries. Furthermore, the variation in volatile emissions from blueberry flowers depending on pollination status, plant cultivar and time of day suggests an adaptive role of floral signals in increasing pollination of flowers.
Project description:Heterostyly is a floral polymorphism characterized by reciprocal herkogamy maintained through high levels of mating between morphs, serviced by appropriate pollinators. We studied how differential efficiency and abundance of distinct pollinators affect plant female reproduction in self- and intra-morph incompatible distylous Primula secundiflora. Bumblebees and syrphid flies were found to be the most abundant floral visitors. Bumblebees frequently exhibited nectar-robbing behavior. Because the robbing holes were always situated between the high- and low-level organs on both morphs, nectar-robbing bumblebees only pollinated S-styled flowers. L-styled flowers set four times as many seeds as did S-styled flowers after being visited by pollen-collecting syrphid flies. The natural female fecundity and the magnitude of pollen limitation varied between the morphs within populations because of the mosaic distribution of nectar-robbing bumblebees and syrphid flies. L-styled flowers and S-styled flowers set the same number of seeds after supplemental hand pollination, indicating equivalent female reproductive potential. We suggest that bumblebee nectar robbers and syrphid flies play an important role in sustaining the floral dimorphism of heterostyly in P. secundiflora because of their complementary roles in the pollination system.