Journal Article

Flower Morphology, Pollination Biology and Mating System of the Complex Flower of <i>Vigna caracalla</i> (Fabaceae: Papilionoideae)

Angela Virginia Etcheverry, Maria Mercedes Alemán and Trinidad Figueroa Fleming

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 102, issue 3, pages 305-316
Published in print September 2008 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online June 2008 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcn106
Flower Morphology, Pollination Biology and Mating System of the Complex Flower of Vigna caracalla (Fabaceae: Papilionoideae)

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
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Background and Aims Vigna caracalla

has the most complex flower among asymmetrical Papilionoideae. The objective of this study was to understand the relationships among floral characteristics, specialization, mating system and the role of floral visitors under different ecological contexts.

Methods

Five populations were studied in north-western Argentina, from 700 to 1570 m a.s.l. Anthesis, colour and odour patterns, stigmatic receptivity, visitors and pollination mechanism were examined and mating-system experiments were performed.

Key Results

The petals are highly modified and the keel shows 3·75–5·25 revolutions. The sense of asymmetry was always left-handed. Hand-crosses showed that V. caracalla is self-compatible, but depends on pollinators to set seeds. Hand-crossed fruits were more successful than hand-selfed ones, with the exception of the site at the highest elevation. Bombus morio (queens and workers), Centris bicolor, Eufriesea mariana and Xylocopa eximia trigger the pollination mechanism (a ‘brush type’). The greatest level of self-compatibility and autonomous self-pollination were found at the highest elevation, together with the lowest reproductive success and number of pollinators (B. morio workers only).

Conclusions

Self-fertilization may have evolved in the peripheral population at the highest site of V. caracalla because of the benefits of reproductive assurance under reduced pollinator diversity.

Keywords: Fabaceae; Vigna caracalla; asymmetry; breeding system; complex flowers; elevational gradient; pollination

Journal Article.  7673 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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