Journal Article

Reproductive investment within inflorescences of <i>Stylidium armeria</i> varies with the strength of early resource commitment

Rowan H. Brookes, Linley K. Jesson and Martin Burd

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 105, issue 5, pages 697-705
Published in print May 2010 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online April 2010 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcq026
Reproductive investment within inflorescences of Stylidium armeria varies with the strength of early resource commitment

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

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Background and Aims

Resource allocation to flowers, fruits and seeds can vary greatly within an inflorescence. For example, distal fruits are often smaller and produce fewer and smaller fruits and seeds than more basal fruits. To assess the causes and functional significance of intra-inflorescence variation, pollen and resources were manipulated to test whether such patterns could be altered within racemes of Stylidum armeria, a perennial Australian herb.

Methods

Pollen and resource levels were manipulated over two flowering seasons. How the number of ovules, fertilized ovules and seeds, the probability of fruit set, and the biomass of floral and fruiting structures varied with their position on the raceme were analysed.

Key Results

Most plants showed a decline in ovule and seed number toward the distal positions on the raceme, but plants differed in their pattern of intra-inflorescence allocation: racemes with greater investment in basal fruits displayed a stronger trade-off with distal investment than did racemes that made smaller initial investments. This trade-off was (a) much stronger for ovule number than for seed number, (b) ameliorated but not erased by resource addition, and (c) exacerbated by resource reduction. There was large and seemingly erratic variation across fruit positions in ovule fertilization and seed set following both natural and supplemental pollination.

Conclusions

In S. armeria, allocation to reproductive traits within the inflorescence is influenced by dynamic trade-offs in resource allocation between early and late fruits, and may also be subject to inherent architectural effects. Large, unpredictable variation among fruits in fertilization success and seed set may influence the evolution of inflorescence size, ovule number and floral dimorphism.

Keywords: Architectural effects; floral biomass; intra-inflorescence; pollen limitation; resource pre-emption; Stylidium armeria

Journal Article.  6592 words.  Illustrated.

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

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