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Floral reward presentation favored the expression of male function in the pollen-only flower Melastoma malabathricum

Authors

  • Zhong-Lai LUO,

    1. (Key Laboratory of Plant Resource Conservation and Sustainable Utilization, South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510650, China)
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  • Shi CHEN,

    1. (Key Laboratory of Plant Resource Conservation and Sustainable Utilization, South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510650, China)
    2. (Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China)
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  • Dian-Xiang ZHANG

    Corresponding author
    1. (Key Laboratory of Plant Resource Conservation and Sustainable Utilization, South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510650, China)
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E-mail: dx-zhang@scbg.ac.cn. Tel./Fax: 86-20-37252543.

Abstract

Abstract  Animal-pollinated plant species modulate the presentation of pollinator rewards to maximize reproductive success. In plants providing pollen as the only reward for pollinators, it is usually difficult to unravel the dual roles of reward presentation and the realization of male and female functions (pollen removal and deposition). Exploiting the two types of anther in the androecia of Melastoma malabathricum L., we examined whether the removal of pollen for reward is regulated primarily to favor male function or female function. Pollen removal by carpenter bees from the feeding and pollination anthers, as well as pollen deposition on the stigmas, were quantified during anthesis of M. malabathricum. There was no significant difference in pollen removal rates from the feeding and pollination anthers of M. malabathricum between the onset of anthesis and flower wilting. The stigmatic pollen loads exceeded the ovule number after three sonication bouts, and female function was satisfied earlier than male function. The results support the hypothesis that the presentation of pollination reward in this species is regulated primarily to favor the expression of male function, rather than female function, in agreement with the pollen-donation hypothesis. A cooperative relationship between the feeding and pollination anthers was demonstrated in heterantherous flowers, which optimizes the balance in investments between pollinator rewards and “functional pollen” for gene transfer.

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