Get access

Variation in floral longevity in the genus Leptosiphon: mating system consequences


  • Editor
    J. Arroyo

J. Weber, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697, USA.


Pollination or fertilisation trigger floral senescence in a wide range of flowering plants, and yet little attention has been given to the implications of this phenomenon to mating system evolution. We examined the effects of pollination on floral senescence in the genus Leptosiphon. Species in the genus exhibit a wide range of breeding systems. In all cases, compatible pollination induced senescence; emasculated flowers lived longer than hand-outcrossed flowers. In the self-compatible species, Leptosiphon acicularis and L. bicolor, and in one highly selfing population of L. jepsonii, unmanipulated flowers had reduced longevity compared to emasculated flowers, suggesting that autonomous self-pollination limits floral longevity in these species. Limited floral longevity in these highly selfing taxa may reduce opportunities for male outcross success, representing a possible source of selection on the mating system. In turn, the mating system might influence how selection acts on floral longevity; obligately outcrossing taxa are expected to benefit from longer floral longevities to maximise opportunities for pollination, while selfing taxa might benefit from earlier floral senescence to reduce resource expenditure. Overall, the longevity of unpollinated flowers increased with the level of outcrossing in the genus Leptosiphon. Our results taken together with those of a previous study and similar results in other species suggest that floral longevity may represent a largely unexamined role in mating system evolution.