J Plant Ecol ›› 2015, Vol. 8 ›› Issue (1): 1-11.DOI: 10.1093/jpe/rtu012

• Review •     Next Articles

How do belowground organisms influence plant-pollinator interactions?

Nicholas A. Barber1,2,* and Nicole L. Soper Gorden3   

  1. 1 Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL 60115, USA; 2 Institute for the Study of the Environment, Sustainability, and Energy, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL 60115, USA; 3 Department of Biology, University of Minnesota Duluth, Duluth, MN 55812, USA
  • Received:2013-12-11 Accepted:2014-07-10 Published:2015-01-22
  • Contact: Barber, Nicholas

Abstract: Aims The majority of angiosperms are pollinated by animals, and this interaction is of enormous importance in both agricultural and natural systems. Pollinator behavior is influenced by plants' floral traits, and these traits may be modified by interactions with other community members. In recent years, knowledge of ecological linkages between above- and belowground organisms has grown tremendously. Soil communities are extremely diverse, and when their interactions with plants influence floral characteristics, they have the potential to alter pollinator attraction and visitation, but plant–pollinator interactions have been neglected in studies of the direct and indirect effects of soil organism–root interactions. Here, we review these belowground interactions, focusing on the effects of nitrogen-fixing bacteria, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and root-feeding herbivores, and their effects on floral traits and pollinators. Further, we identify gaps in our knowledge of these indirect effects and recommend promising directions and topics that should be addressed by future research.
Important findings Belowground organisms can influence a wide variety of floral traits that are important mediators of pollinator attraction, including the number and size of flowers and nectar and pollen production. Other traits that are known to influence pollinators in some plant species, such as floral volatiles, color and nectar composition, have rarely or never been examined in the context of belowground plant interactions. Despite clear effects on flowers, relatively few studies have measured pollinator responses to belowground interactions. When these indirect effects have been studied, both arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and root herbivores were found to shift pollinator visitation patterns. Depending on the interaction, these changes may either increase or decrease pollinator attraction. Finally, we discuss future directions for ecological studies that will more fully integrate belowground ecology with pollination biology. We advocate a multilevel approach to these questions to not only document indirect effect pathways between soil interactions and pollination but also identify the mechanisms driving changes in pollinator impacts and the resultant effects on plant fitness. A more thorough understanding of these indirect interactions will advance ecological theory and may inform management strategies in agriculture and conservation biology.

Key words: aboveground-belowground, pollinator, mycorrhizae, herbivore, floral traits, indirect effects

摘要:
Aims The majority of angiosperms are pollinated by animals, and this interaction is of enormous importance in both agricultural and natural systems. Pollinator behavior is influenced by plants' floral traits, and these traits may be modified by interactions with other community members. In recent years, knowledge of ecological linkages between above- and belowground organisms has grown tremendously. Soil communities are extremely diverse, and when their interactions with plants influence floral characteristics, they have the potential to alter pollinator attraction and visitation, but plant–pollinator interactions have been neglected in studies of the direct and indirect effects of soil organism–root interactions. Here, we review these belowground interactions, focusing on the effects of nitrogen-fixing bacteria, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and root-feeding herbivores, and their effects on floral traits and pollinators. Further, we identify gaps in our knowledge of these indirect effects and recommend promising directions and topics that should be addressed by future research.
Important findings Belowground organisms can influence a wide variety of floral traits that are important mediators of pollinator attraction, including the number and size of flowers and nectar and pollen production. Other traits that are known to influence pollinators in some plant species, such as floral volatiles, color and nectar composition, have rarely or never been examined in the context of belowground plant interactions. Despite clear effects on flowers, relatively few studies have measured pollinator responses to belowground interactions. When these indirect effects have been studied, both arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and root herbivores were found to shift pollinator visitation patterns. Depending on the interaction, these changes may either increase or decrease pollinator attraction. Finally, we discuss future directions for ecological studies that will more fully integrate belowground ecology with pollination biology. We advocate a multilevel approach to these questions to not only document indirect effect pathways between soil interactions and pollination but also identify the mechanisms driving changes in pollinator impacts and the resultant effects on plant fitness. A more thorough understanding of these indirect interactions will advance ecological theory and may inform management strategies in agriculture and conservation biology.