Journal Article

Flower thermoregulation facilitates fertilization in Asian sacred lotus

Jiao-Kun Li and Shuang-Quan Huang

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 103, issue 7, pages 1159-1163
Published in print May 2009 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online March 2009 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcp051
Flower thermoregulation facilitates fertilization in Asian sacred lotus

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry

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Background and Aims

The thermoregulatory flower of the Asian sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) can maintain a relatively stable temperature despite great variations in ambient temperature during anthesis. The thermoregulation has been hypothesized to offer a direct energy reward for pollinators in lotus flowers. This study aims to examine whether the stable temperature maintained in the floral chamber influences the fertilization process and seed development.

Methods

An artificial refrigeration instrument was employed to cool flowers during the fertilization process and post-fertilization period in an experimental population. The effect of temperature on post-pollination events was also examined by removing petals in two field populations.

Key Results

Treatments with low floral temperature did not reduce stigma receptivity or pollen viability in undehisced anthers. Low temperature during the fertilization period significantly decreased seed set per flower but low temperature during the phase of seed development had no effect, suggesting that temperature regulation by lotus flowers facilitated fertilization success. Hand-pollination treatments in two field populations indicated that seed set of flowers with petals removed was lower than that of intact flowers in north China, where ambient temperatures are low, but not in south China, confirming that reducing the temperature of carpels did influence post-pollination events.

Conclusions

The experiments suggest that floral thermoregulation in lotus could enhance female reproductive success by facilitating fertilization.

Keywords: Nelumbo nucifera; Asian sacred lotus; beetle-pollination syndrome; fertilization process; post-pollination events; pollen viability; stigma receptivity; thermoregulation

Journal Article.  3272 words.  Illustrated.

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

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