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  • Volume 8 Issue 2
    A hawkmoth Macroglossum variegatum (Sphingidae) sucking nectar from an alpine terrestrial orchid Habenaria glaucifolia, showing pollinia attached to the base of its proboscis. Pollinators for this greenish white flower with a long spur are predicted to be longtongued moths, pictured by Chang-Qiu Liu at Shangri-La Alpine Botanical Garden, southwest China. See Ying-Ze Xiong, et al. in this issue.
    Spencer C.H. Barrett
    2015, 8 (2): 101-108.
    Abstract ( 42 )   PDF   Save
    Research Articles
    Zhi-Huan Huang, Huan-Le Liu, Shuang-Quan Huang
    2015, 8 (2): 109-115.
    Abstract ( 43 )   PDF   Save
    Aims When sympatric flowering plant species in a natural community share pollinators, study of plant–plant interactions via interspecific pollen transfer (IPT) is essential for understanding species coexistence. However, little is known about the extent of IPT between interactive species and its causes.
    Methods To explore how sympatric flowering plants sharing pollinators minimize deleterious effects of IPT, we investigated the pollination ecology of two endemic species, Salvia przewalskii and Delphinium yuanum, in an alpine meadow in the Hengduan Mountains, southwest China. We quantified conspecific and interspecific visits by shared bumblebee pollinators, amounts of pollen placed on different body sites of the pollinators and stigmatic pollen loads on open-pollinated flowers. To examine whether IPT affects female fitness, we measured pollen germination and seed production in the two species in an artificial pollination experiment.
    Important findings One bumblebee species, Bombus trifasciatus, was found to be the sole effective pollinator for the two coflowering species. Pollination experiments indicated that deposition of heterospecific pollen could significantly decrease seed set in both species. Experiments showed that S. przewalskii pollen could germinate well on stigmas of D. yuanum, inhibiting conspecific pollen germination in D. yuanum. However, seed set was not lower under open pollination than under cross-pollination within species, suggesting that no female fitness loss was caused by IPT. In foraging bouts with pollinator switches, switches from S. przewalskii to D. yuanum were relatively more frequent (8.27%) than the converse (1.72%). However, IPT from S. przewalskii to D. yuanum accounted for only 1.82% of total stigmatic pollen loads while the reverse IPT to S. przewalskii was 8.70%, indicating that more switches of bumblebees to D. yuanum did not result in higher IPT. By contrast, selection for reduced IPT to S. przewalskii would limit pollinator switches from D. yuanum. We found that a bumblebee generally carried pollen grains from both species but the two species differed in the position of pollen placement on the bumblebee's body; S. przewalskii ' s pollen was concentrated on the dorsal thorax while D. yuanum ' s pollen was concentrated ventrally on the head. This differential pollen placement along with pollinator fidelity largely reduced IPT between the two species with a shared pollinator.
    Jie Gao, Ying-Ze Xiong, Shuang-Quan Huang
    2015, 8 (2): 116-121.
    Abstract ( 34 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Floral longevity, the duration that a flower remains open and functional, varies greatly among species. Variation in floral longevity has been considered to be optimal strategy for resource allocation under different ecological conditions, mainly determined by the rates of pollination and cost of flower maintenance. However, it is unclear whether an intrinsic factor, floral sexual investment, constrains evolution of floral longevity. The theoretical model also predicts that dichogamy favors long-lived flowers, but empirical studies to test this prediction remain unexplored.
    Methods To examine the effect of floral sexual investment on floral longevity, we measured flower size together with pollen and ovule production in 37 sympatric flowering plants in a natural community. The duration of the female and male phase in 21 protandrous species and floral longevity of the other 16 adichogamous species were documented in the field.
    Important findings Floral longevity varied from 1 day to 15 days, while pollen number per flower varied from 643 to 710880 and ovule number per flower from 1 to 426 in the 37 species. Flower size was correlated with pollen production as well as ovule production. Floral longevity was positively related to pollen production but not to ovule production. Consistent with the prediction that dichogamy favors long-lived flowers, we found the floral longevity of protandrous species was significantly longer than that of adichogamous species. In the protandrous species, pollen production per flower was observed to be positively related to male duration, while ovule production was not related to female duration. Our analyses of variation in floral longevity and sexual investment among different species suggest that the floral sexual investment could be an intrinsic factor contributing to the selected floral longevity, particularly the male phase, and that high pollen production could potentially increase pollen removal, i.e. male productive success.
    Ning-Na Lu, Xiao-Hui Li, Lin Li, Zhi-Gang Zhao
    2015, 8 (2): 122-129.
    Abstract ( 41 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Floral nectar plays a vital role in plant reproductive success by attracting pollinators. Nectar traits of a flower can depend directly on plant characteristics other than environmental factors and exhibit extensive flower- and plant-level variations. Studies on nectar traits frequently focused on intraplant variation for dichogamous plants, but few have paid attention to both intra- and interplant nectar variations in relation to plant characteristics. Revealing within- and among-plant variation and its relative magnitude is important for our understanding of how pollinator-mediated selection can act on nectar traits and evolution of nectar traits.
    Methods Through investigating protandrous Aconitum gymnandrum populations at the Alpine Meadows and Wetland Ecosystems Research Station of Lanzhou University, we examined the relationships between nectar production per flower and plant characteristics (e.g. flower position within inflorescences, floral sexual phases, flowering time, inflorescence size and floral attractive traits).
    Important findings A. gymnandrum exhibited a declining gradient in the nectar volume along inflorescences, with more nectar in basal flowers than distal ones. Protandrous flowers of A. gymnandrum did not show gender-biased nectar production while the nectar volume varied with different stages of floral sexual phases. The significant correlation between the first flowering date of individuals and the mean nectar volume per flower was positive in 2013, but became negative in 2014, suggesting complex effects of biotic and abiotic factors. The mean nectar volume per flower was not related to inflorescence size (the number of total flowers per plant). Furthermore, nectar production was weakly associated with floral attractive traits (the petal width and the galea height), even if the effect of flowering time of individuals was removed, suggesting that the honesty of floral traits as signals of nectar reward for pollinators is not stable in this species.
    Zhi-Gang Zhao, Zuo-Jun Liu, Jeffrey K. Conner
    2015, 8 (2): 130-135.
    Abstract ( 51 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Sex allocation in plants is often plastic, enabling individuals to adjust to variable environments. However, the predicted male-biased sex allocation in response to low resource conditions has rarely been experimentally tested in hermaphroditic plants. In particular, it is unknown whether distal flowers in linear inflorescences show a larger shift to male allocation relative to basal flowers when resources are reduced. In this study, we measure position-dependent plasticity of floral sex allocation within racemes of Aconitum gymnandrum in response to reduced resource availability.
    Methods Using a defoliation treatment in the field applied to potted plants from a nested half-sibling design, we examined the effects of the treatment, flower position, family and their interactions.
    Important findings Allocation to male function increased with more distal flower position, while female allocation either did not change with position or declined at the most distal flowers. Defoliation significantly reduced the mass of both the androecium and gynoecium, but not anther number or carpel number. Gynoecial mass declined more strongly with defoliation than did androecial mass, resulting in a significant increase in the androecium/gynoecium ratio as predicted by sex allocation theory. Plastic responses of androecium mass and gynoecium mass were affected by flower position, with less mass lost in basal flowers, but similar plastic magnitude in both sexual traits across flower position lead to consistent variation in the androecium/gynoecium ratio along the inflorescence. A significant treatment*paternal family interaction for the androecium/gynoecium ratio is evidence for additive genetic variation for plastic floral sex allocation, which means that further evolution of allocation can occur.
    Ying-Ze Xiong, Chang-Qiu Liu,, Shuang-Quan Huang
    2015, 8 (2): 136-141.
    Abstract ( 48 )   PDF   Save
    Aims The hypothesis of predator satiation has been proposed to explain mast fruiting in various flowering plants. It considers that the simultaneous production of large numbers of seeds by a plant population reduces the risk of seed predation for each individual. Orchids produce huge numbers of seeds per fruit and rarely experience seed predation. It remains unclear which factors may affect fluctuating fruit production in orchids, which generally suffer a widespread pollen limitation. To explore the temporal pattern of fruiting and potential factors related to fluctuation in fruit production, we investigated reproductive success of a long-spurred orchid (Habenaria glaucifolia) in an alpine meadow with thousands of individuals over 8 years.
    Methods To estimate reproductive success, pollinator observation was conducted by day and at night, and pollinia removal and receipt were recorded in the field population for 8 years. To examine whether fruit set and seed set are pollen limited, we conducted supplementary pollination experiments and compared fruit set, seed set and pollinia movement of open-pollinated flowers from 2011 to 2013. We measured lengths of spurs and pollinator proboscises, and nectar volume and concentration, to identify potential pollinators.
    Important findings Hawkmoths were seen to be effective pollinators for H. glaucifolia in 3 years, whereas in the remaining 5 years no pollinators were observed, and consequently pollinia were rarely transferred. Numerous pollinia movements were observed in 2012, 2013 and 2014 (pollinia removal: 48, 59 and 85%; pollinia receipt 51, 70 and 80%), and correspondingly fruit set was significantly higher in 2012 and 2013 (59 and 46%) than in 2011 (25%). It was fruit set, rather than seed set, that was pollen limited in this orchid in the 3 years, in that supplementary pollination increased fruit set but did not increase seed set per fruit compared to natural. Three species of hawkmoths had proboscis lengths that matched the spur length of H. glaucifolia. Fruit set in this long spurred orchid depends on the activity of long-tongued hawkmoths, resulting in significant temporal variation in fruit production. Mast fruiting in this alpine orchid could be attributed to a 'sit and wait' strategy, awaiting an abundance of effective pollinators.
    Guo-Xing Cao, Ting Xie, Bi-Xian Wu, Chun-Ping Yang
    2015, 8 (2): 142-153.
    Abstract ( 37 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Within inflorescences of sexually reproducing hermaphrodites, the production of ovules, fruits and seeds commonly declines from basal (early-opening) to distal (late-opening) flowers, while pollen production remains constant or only changes slightly, with the result that distal (late-opening) flowers become functionally male. However, few empirical studies have specifically examined whether or not changes in allocation to pollen production actually lead to changes in the number of seeds sired, a more direct measure of male fitness. In pseudogamous apomicts, fitness depends on the number of seeds produced; thus, a contrasting pattern of variation in the pollen-to-ovule (P/O) ratio within inflorescences might be expected.
    Methods We investigated floral sex allocation and reproductive success within racemes of Hosta ventricosa, a pseudogamous apomictic hermaphrodite possessing flowers that open acropetally. We quantified variations in pollen number, ovule number, the P/O ratio and fruit and seed production, from 2007 to 2011, among flowers within racemes of four populations of H. ventricosa in southwest China. Ecological causes for fruit and seed production were evaluated by observing patterns of pollen deposition, flower removal and supplemental pollination.
    Important findings Pollen number, ovule number and the P/O ratio declined from basal-to-distal positions in all sampled populations (years). Fruit and seed production decreased distally in most populations (years). Low fruit and seed set of distal flowers was not due to pollen limitation because pollen deposition never declined distally and the low fruit and seed set of distal flowers remained even after supplementary pollination was provided. The flower-removal experiment indicated that inter-fruit competition for resources among flowers was common. The low P/O ratio of distal flowers in H. ventricosa might be favored because they were unable to obtain fitness by donating pollen and siring seeds on other plants. Our study may help to understand the adaptive significance of sex allocation among flowers within inflorescences of sexually reproducing hermaphrodites.
    Li-Juan Zhang, An-Ru Lou
    2015, 8 (2): 154-158.
    Abstract ( 43 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Small plant populations may be more likely to suffer more severe pollen limitation due to the lower number of potential mates or suitable pollinators. For invasive species, this phenomenon may be more common when an invading population colonizes a new habitat. Here, we investigated whether pollen limitation occurs in invasive populations of Solanum rostratum during its invasion from North America to China and evaluated the patterns between pollen limitation and population size.
    Methods Pollen addition experiments were performed on six invasive populations of S. rostratum. By comparing fruit set and seed production with open pollination treatment, we calculated the index of pollen limitation and regressed it to population size and density.
    Important findings Among the six sampled invasive populations of S. rostratum, the fruit set and seed production per fruit were 0.346±0.014 and 52.38±9.29, respectively, with open pollination treatment and 0.572±0.022 and 56.28±10.79, respectively, with pollen addition treatment. Compared with open pollination, pollen addition significantly increased fruit set and seed production by 65.3 and 7.4%, respectively. The standardized index of pollen limitation ranged from 0.022 to 0.125, with an average of 0.065, suggesting that invasive populations of S. rostratum do suffer from pollen limitation. The index of pollen limitation was negatively correlated with population size, which is consistent with the pattern that smaller populations suffer from more severe pollen limitation.
    De-Li Peng, Yang Niu, Bo Song, Jian-Guo Chen, Zhi-Min Li, Yang Yang, Hang Sun
    2015, 8 (2): 159-165.
    Abstract ( 38 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Studying the ecological significance of highly specialized morphological traits evolved by alpine plants could help us to understand the adaptation and evolution of these plants under severe alpine environment. We explored the adaptive significance of woolly and overlapping leaves for reproduction in Eriophyton wallichii, a perennial herb native to the subnival belt of the Himalaya-Hengduan Mountains.
    Methods We examined whether the trichomes could influence the leaf wettability, temperature and leaf reflectance spectra in the lab. And we investigated the thermal benefits of the woolly and overlapping leaves for flowers and fruits in the field. Pollen viability and seed germination were also examined in the lab to assess whether these leaves enhance reproductive fitness.
    Important findings Our results showed that dense trichomes impart good water repellency, absorption of solar radiation and accumulation of leaf heat. The woolly and overlapping leaves increased the interior temperature of flowers and fruits to an optimal level on sunny hours, but prevented them from overheating when transient intense solar radiation occurs. This kept optimal temperatures in plants' reproductive organs, thus promoting the development of pollen and seed in alpine environment.
    Zhi-Qun Yang, Da-Yong Zhang, Wei-Ning Bai
    2015, 8 (2): 166-172.
    Abstract ( 50 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Exploring the characteristics and function of a flower color polymorphism contributes to our understanding of floral evolution in angiosperms. However, little information is available on stigma color polymorphisms in flowering plants despite their important functional role in plant reproduction.
    Methods We studied a stigma color polymorphism at the individual level in Acer pictum subsp. mono (aka A. mono) by investigating stigma-color morph proportion and comparing stigma performance and components of female fitness (pollen adhesion, pollen germination, fruit set, seed set and fruit weight) between the two morphs (red and greenish-yellow stigma) within natural populations at Dongling Mountain in the north of China. In the flowering period, we conducted hand pollination in natural populations and then made microscopic observations using the aniline blue fluorescence method.
    Important findings Individuals in the studied populations did not change their stigma color between years, and flowers produced by a single tree were uniform in their stigma color. This strongly suggests that stigma color variation is genetically controlled. The percentage of the red stigma flowers with germinated pollen grains was significantly higher than that of the greenish-yellow stigma flowers when hand pollination was conducted in the early flowering period, but not so in the late flowering period. There was no significant difference in the percentage of flowers with pollen adhesion to the stigma between the two morphs. Fruit set of the red morph was significantly higher than that of the greenish-yellow morph. Our findings suggest that the red morph may be more advantageous for pollen germination and fruit set than the greenish-yellow morph, which may provide a functional explanation for the high incidence of the red stigma morph in the studied populations. Alternative explanations for the stigma color polymorphism are discussed to stimulate further work.
    Bo Song, Yang Niu, Jürg Stöcklin, Gao Chen, De-Li Peng, Yong-Qian Gao, Hang Sun
    2015, 8 (2): 173-181.
    Abstract ( 43 )   PDF   Save
    Aims It is generally accepted that visual displays and floral scent play important roles in communication between flowering plants and their pollinators. However, the relative role of visual and olfactory cues in pollinator attraction is largely unknown. In this study, we determined the roles of both types of cue in attracting pollinators to Cornus capitata, a medium sized tree with each capitulum surrounded by four large, white, petaloid bracts.
    Methods Pollinator observations and pollination experiments were conducted in a natural population; the inflorescences' visual and olfactory signals were characterized by spectral and chemical analyses; the responses of pollinators to visual and olfactory cues were tested using dual-choice behavioural bioassays; the relative roles of visual and olfactory cues in pollinator attraction were tested by comparing the responses of pollinators to inflorescences subjected to three experimental treatments (intact, all bracts removed, and capitulum removed) within the natural population.
    Important findings For fruit set, C. capitata is entirely dependent on pollinators, with a bee, Anthophora sp., being the main pollinator. Bracts present high colour distance and green contrast against the leaves. Twelve volatile compounds in the floral scent were detected, most of which have previously been reported to be attractive to a broad spectrum of bee species. Behavioural bioassays showed that both, visual cues alone and olfactory cues alone, are attractive to pollinating bees. However, visual cues alone attracted significantly more approaches than olfactory cues alone, while olfactory cues alone elicited a significantly higher landing percentage than visual cues alone. The finding suggests that, in the C. capitata – Anthophora sp. interaction, visual cues are mainly used for location from long distances, while olfactory cues mainly aid landing from short distances. Our results indicate that different modalities of floral cues should be considered together to understand fully the communication between flowering plant and pollinators.
    Ai-Qin Zhang, Shuang He, Ya-Xin Zhai, Shuang-Quan Huang
    2015, 8 (2): 182-186.
    Abstract ( 46 )   PDF   Save
    Aims The calyx, the outermost whorl of a flower (usually green), has been considered to function to protect flowers. In some species, however, calyces are colorful and retained during seed development. Limonium species have been exploited as cut flower crops because the calyces persist for several months after the corolla has closed. To explore the adaptive significance of the persistent calyx in a desert plant Limonium leptolobum, we ask whether persistence of calyces can enhance pollinator attraction by enlarging floral displays, increasing reproductive success in this self-incompatible species.
    Methods The yellow flower of L. leptolobum lasted 1–2 days but its white, membranous calyx extended fully after the corolla closed, and persisted for over 2 months in the field, making hundreds of 'showy flowers' on one individual. To examine the ecological function of calyces, we test the pollinator attraction hypothesis. In an experimental population, we compared the difference in visit frequency and visitor behavior between intact inflorescences and inflorescences with their calyces removed on the same individual plants.
    Important findings In four experimental plots four types of floral visitors were observed including bees, butterflies, syrphid flies and day-flying moths. No significant preference was observed between calyx-free and intact inflorescences for both first arrivals and total visit frequency of all types of floral visitors, indicating that the persistence of calyces did not make plants more attractive to potential pollinators. The pollinator attraction hypothesis for the showy calyces was not supported by the current data. Whether the calyx in this desert plant helps seed development or has other functions needs further study.
    Nan-Cai Pei, W. John Kress, Bu-Feng Chen, David L. Erickson, Khoon Meng Wong, Jin-Long Zhang, Wan-Hui Ye, Zhong-Liang Huang, Dian-Xiang Zhang
    2015, 8 (2): 187-196.
    Abstract ( 51 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Exploring flowering patterns and detecting processes are essential when probing into the nature of reproductive traits during the life history and the interactions among different evolutionary clades. Such patterns are believed to be influenced by many factors, but quantifying these impacts at the community-level remains poorly understood.
    Methods We investigated the flowering patterns based on long-term herbarium records in a given area from subtropical forest regions in southern China. We obtained 5258 herbarium voucher specimens collected from the Dinghushan National Nature Reserve (DNNR) belonging to 166 families, 943 genera and 2059 species and examined the month when each species was flowering during the period 1920–2007.
    Important findings The results showed that plants flowered sequentially almost throughout the whole year, showing the characteristics of subtropical evergreen broad-leaved forests. Flowering spectrums of the entire flora and the four life forms exhibited a clear unimodality that is probably typical of subtropical forest communities. Flowering patterns of the DNNR were positively correlated with mean rainfall, mean air temperature and mean sunshine duration. Median flowering dates of the 38 large species-rich families ranged from early April to late August; 25 families exhibited significant unimodal distribution patterns, whereas the remaining families were unclear or bimodal. Median flowering dates of the 10 most species-rich genera ranged from middle May to later July. While the results are consistent with climatic factors playing a general role in flowering patterns, median flowering dates varied significantly among species-rich families and genera, suggesting that phylogenies could provide specific constraints in subtropical forests.
    Gui-Xiang Liu, Da-Rong Yang, Yan-Qiong Peng, Stephen G. Compton
    2015, 8 (2): 197-206.
    Abstract ( 39 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Most pollinator fig wasps are host plant specific, with each species only breeding in the figs of one fig tree species, but increasing numbers of species are known to be pollinated by more than one fig wasp, and in rare instances host switching can result in Ficus species sharing pollinators. In this study, we examined factors facilitating observed host switching at Xishuangbanna in Southwestern (SW) China, where Ficus squamosa is at the northern edge of its range and lacks the fig wasps that pollinate it elsewhere, and its figs are colonized by a Ceratosolen pollinator that routinely breeds in figs of F. heterostyla .
    Methods We recorded the habitat preferences of F. squamosa and F. heterostyla at Xishuangbanna, and compared characteristics such as fig size, location and colour at receptive phase. Furthermore, the vegetative and reproductive phenologies in the populations of F. squamosa and F. heterostyla were recorded weekly at Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden for 1 year.
    Important findings Ficus squamosa is a shrub found near fast-flowing rivers, F. heterostyla is a small tree of disturbed forest edges. Although preferring different habitats, they can be found growing close together. Both species have figs located at or near ground level, but they differ in size when pollinated. Fig production in F. squamosa was concentrated in the colder months. F. heterostyla produced more figs in summer but had some throughout the year. The absence of its normal pollinators, in combination with similarly located figs and partially complementary fruiting patterns appear to have facilitated colonization of F. squamosa by the routine pollinator of F. heterostyla. The figs probably also share similar attractant volatiles. This host switching suggests one mechanism whereby fig trees can acquire new pollinators and emphasizes the likely significance of edges of ranges in the genesis of novel fig tree–fig wasp relationships.
    Xiao-Meng Li, Da-Yong Zhang, Wan-Jin Liao
    2015, 8 (2): 207-212.
    Abstract ( 37 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Flowering time has been suggested to be an important adaptive trait during the dispersal of invasive species, and identifying the molecular mechanisms underlying flowering time may provide insight into the local adaptation during the process of invasion. Here, we conducted a preliminary exploration on the genetic basis of the differentiation of flowering time in Ambrosia artemisiifolia .
    Methods Using relative real-time fluorescent quantitative polymerase chain reaction, we investigated the expression levels of eight flowering-related genes, including AP1, FT, SOC1, CRY2, FKF1, GI, CO2 and SPY, in leaves and flowers at different time points in individuals from northern Beijing and southern Wuhan populations that exhibit significant differences in flowering times to identify any rhythmic changes in gene expression and their association with differential flowering times.
    Important findings The differentiation of flowering time in the A. artemisiifolia populations was closely associated with five genes involved in flowering pathways. The floral pathway integrators FT and SOC1 and floral meristem identity gene AP1 exhibited increased expression during flowering. The photoreceptor CRY2 in the light-dependent pathway and the SPY gene in the gibberellin pathway displayed specific expression patterns over time. In earlier-flowering Beijing plants, CRY2 expression was lower and SPY expression was higher than in Wuhan plants. The expression patterns of these five genes suggest a molecular basis for the differentiation of flowering time in A. artemisiifolia .
    Jiao-Kun Li, Yun-Peng Song, Hui Xu, Yan-Wen Zhang, Jian-Yu Zhu, Lu-Lu Tang
    2015, 8 (2): 213-223.
    Abstract ( 52 )   PDF   Save
    Aims In heterantherous plants, 'division of labor' among structurally different stamens, i.e. pollinating and feeding functions, has been thought to reduce the evolutionary conflict of relying on pollen both as the carrier of male gametes and as the food for pollinators. The key to successful division of labor among different sets of stamens is the size match between stamens and legitimate pollinators, which results in the precise deposition of pollen onto specific locations on pollinator's body and facilitates cross pollination. However, the potential impact of small illegitimate insects that are ubiquitous during the pollination process on the plant reproduction in heterantherous species has been largely neglected in previous studies and never been demonstrated experimentally.
    Methods Here, we investigated the functions of three different types of stamens in Commelina communis. The pollinator visitation, pollen removal and deposition were compared among flowers with different types of anthers emasculated at two natural populations. Moreover, the mating systems of C. communis in wild populations were estimated using microsatellite markers.
    Important findings Our data showed that the main floral visitors for C. communis at the two studied populations were small illegitimate bees rather than legitimate pollinators, accounting for 77.5 and 92.2% of total flower visits, respectively. Flower manipulations in C. communis demonstrated that the two types of brightly yellow stamens separately functioned as 'deceptive attraction' and 'feeding' functions. Although the brown inconspicuous stamens of C. communis with the largest amount of fertile pollen had the potential function in offering pollen for cross pollination, the high ratio of illegitimate visitation by small bees significantly affected the dispersal and deposition of pollen from the pollinating anthers, and subsequently decreased the levels of outcrossing (t m = 0.23–0.32) in wild populations. Our work further confirmed that the size match between pollinators and the floral morphology is the prerequisite to successfully fulfill the functional differentiation among different sets of stamens in heterantherous plants. Local high ratio of illegitimate visitation by size unmatched insects could significantly weaken the potential functions of heteranthery, affecting the dispersal and deposition of functional pollen in heterantherous plants and further the whole mating systems.
    Lai Wei, Yue-Fei Li, Han Zhang, Wan-Jin Liao
    2015, 8 (2): 224-229.
    Abstract ( 39 )   PDF   Save
    Aims Hybridization usually leads to gene introgression between related species in hybrid zones, associated with complex patterns of morphological variation. Nevertheless, previous studies have tended to ignore the effects of geographic variation in hybridization rates on species taxonomy. This study aims to investigate the variation of morphological traits between two sympatric and taxonomically confused oak species, Quercus liaotungensis and Q. mongolica, and reveal the effects of hybridization rates on morphological traits and the taxonomic boundary.
    Methods We used seven microsatellite loci to evaluate species status and measured 15 morphological traits in 26 trees in the recent hybrid zone between Q. liaotungensis and Q. mongolica, and we characterized the differences between the two oak species and their hybrids for the investigated traits.
    Important findings Molecular analyses indicated that 74% of 78 sampled maternal trees were hybrids between Q. liaotungensis and Q. mongolica although the observed morphological variation suggested that they had remained distinct species. Across all of the differentiated leaf and reproductive traits, the hybrids expressed patterns similar to Q. liaotungensis, which may suggest dominant expression of parental characters. These results are consistent with our expectation that hybrids will be difficult to distinguish from parental species in a recent hybrid zone.
Impact Factor
5 year Impact Factor
Wen-Hao Zhang
Bernhard Schmid