Microgametophyte population sizes and plant reproductive output in the insect-pollinated Prunella grandiflora (Lamiaceae)


Author for correspondence: Giorgina Bernasconi Tel: +41 21 6924217 Fax: +41 21 6924265 Email: giorgina,bernasconi@unil.ch


  • • Intraspecific variation in pollen deposition and number of pollen tubes per style is rarely quantified, but is essential for assessing the occurrence of pollen limitation and pollen competition and their evolutionary implications. Moreover, pollen deposition, pollen tube growth, and the fate of fertilized ovules are rarely distinguished in field studies. Here we present such a study in eight natural populations of Prunella grandiflora.
  • • We quantified microgametophyte population sizes and inferred pollen limitation when the number of fertilizable ovules exceeded pollen tubes, and assessed seed set and fate after open pollination.
  • • Two and three populations had on average significantly fewer pollen grains and pollen tubes per flower, respectively, than the fixed number of fertilizable ovules per fruit, while one population experienced significant pollen competition. Style length was positively correlated with the number of pollen tubes. While pollen availability was very variable, seed abortion was significantly less frequent in denser populations, and in one population the proportion of well-developed seeds was significantly, positively correlated with the number of pollen tubes in the style.
  • • Less pollen deposition, lower numbers of pollen tubes reaching the base of the style, lower pollen quality and therefore increased abortion of fertilized ovules can all reduce seed set in natural P. grandiflora stands. Substantial intraspecific variability implies that microgametophyte competition also occurs in this species. Finally, style morphology may affect pollen receipt.