Journal Article

Pollination and late-acting self-incompatibility in <i>Cyrtanthus breviflorus</i> (Amaryllidaceae): implications for seed production

Glenda Vaughton, Mike Ramsey and Steven D. Johnson

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 106, issue 4, pages 547-555
Published in print October 2010 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online July 2010 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcq149
Pollination and late-acting self-incompatibility in Cyrtanthus breviflorus (Amaryllidaceae): implications for seed production

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

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Background and Aims

Animal pollination is typically an uncertain process that interacts with self-incompatibility status to determine reproductive success. Seed set is often pollen-limited, but species with late-acting self-incompatibility (SI) may be particularly vulnerable, if self-pollen deposition results in ovule discounting. Pollination is examined and the occurrence of late-acting SI and ovule discounting assessed in Cyrtanthus breviflorus.

Methods

The pollination system was characterized by observing floral visitors and assessing nectar production and spectral reflectance of flowers. To assess late-acting SI and ovule discounting, growth of self- and cross-pollen tubes, and seed set following open pollination or hand pollination with varying proportions of self- and cross-pollen, were examined.

Key Results

Native honeybees Apis mellifera scutellata pollinated flowers as they actively collected pollen. Most flowers (≥70 %) did not contain nectar, while the rest produced minute volumes of dilute nectar. The flowers which are yellow to humans are visually conspicuous to bees with a strong contrast between UV-reflecting tepals and UV-absorbing anthers and pollen. Plants were self-incompatible, but self-rejection was late-acting and both self- and cross-pollen tubes penetrated ovules. Seed set of open-pollinated flowers was pollen-limited, despite pollen deposition exceeding ovule number by 6-fold. Open-pollinated seed set was similar to that of the cross + self-pollen treatment, but was less than that of the cross-pollen-only treatment.

Conclusions

Flowers of C. breviflorus are pollinated primarily by pollen-collecting bees and possess a late-acting SI system, previously unknown in this clade of the Amaryllidaceae. Pollinators of C. breviflorus deposit mixtures of cross- and self-pollen and, because SI is late-acting, self-pollen disables ovules, reducing female fertility. This study thus contributes to growing evidence that seed production in plants with late-acting SI systems is frequently limited by pollen quality, even when pollinators are abundant.

Keywords: Amarydillaceae; Cyrtanthus breviflorus; honeybee pollination; late-acting self-incompatibility; ovule discounting; pollen limitation; pollen quantity and quality

Journal Article.  5646 words.  Illustrated.

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

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