Journal Article

Effective pollinators of Asian sacred lotus (<i>Nelumbo nucifera</i>): contemporary pollinators may not reflect the historical pollination syndrome

Jiao-Kun Li and Shuang-Quan Huang

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 104, issue 5, pages 845-851
Published in print October 2009 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online July 2009 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcp173
Effective pollinators of Asian sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera): contemporary pollinators may not reflect the historical pollination syndrome

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

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Background and Aims

If stabilizing selection by pollinators is a prerequisite for pollinator-mediated floral evolution, spatiotemporal variation in the pollinator assemblage may confuse the plant–pollinator interaction in a given species. Here, effective pollinators in a living fossil plant Nelumbo nucifera (Nelumbonaceae) were examined to test whether beetles are major pollinators as predicted by its pollination syndrome.

Methods

Pollinators of N. nucifera were investigated in 11 wild populations and one cultivated population, and pollination experiments were conducted to examine the pollinating role of two major pollinators (bees and beetles) in three populations.

Key Results

Lotus flowers are protogynous, bowl shaped and without nectar. The fragrant flowers can be self-heating during anthesis and produce around 1 million pollen grains per flower. It was found that bees and flies were the most frequent flower visitors in wild populations, contributing on average 87·9 and 49·4 % of seed set in Mishan and Lantian, respectively. Beetles were only found in one wild population and in the cultivated population, but the pollinator exclusion experiments showed that beetles were effective pollinators of Asian sacred lotus.

Conclusions

This study indicated that in their pollinating role, beetles, probable pollinators for this thermoregulating plant, had been replaced by some generalist insects in the wild. This finding implies that contemporary pollinators may not reflect the pollination syndrome.

Keywords: Nelumbo nucifera; beetle pollinated; pollination syndrome; effective pollinator; generalized flower; thermoregulation; Nelumbonaceae

Journal Article.  4426 words.  Illustrated.

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

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