Male interference with pollination efficiency in a hermaphroditic orchid

Authors

  • K. J. Duffy,

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
    • Correspondence: Karl J. Duffy, School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Private Bag X01, Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg 3209, South Africa. Tel.: +27 33 2605657; fax: +27 33 2605105; e-mail: duffyk@tcd.ie

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  • S. D. Johnson

    1. School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
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Abstract

Hermaphroditism can lead to both intra- and intersexual conflict between male and female gender functions. However, the effect that such gender conflicts have on pollination efficiency has seldom been investigated. By artificially reducing the number of available male gametes on an individual, we quantified whether male interference with pollination efficiency occurs in the self-compatible, moth-pollinated orchid Satyrium longicauda. We partially emasculated S. longicauda inflorescences and compared pollination success and fecundity in these plants to intact controls. Pollen in both groups of plants was colour-labelled so that its dispersal by pollinators could be tracked directly in the field. Intact flowers on partially emasculated inflorescences exported more pollen and received more cross-pollen and less self-pollen than those on intact inflorescences. Proportion of fruit set per plant was similar between the two treatments; however, fruits on partially emasculated plants had proportionally more viable seeds than those on intact controls. These results provide empirical evidence that male interference with pollination efficiency can occur in a hermaphroditic plant and that such interference can compromise fecundity. The most likely mechanism for such male interference is competition for placement on the proboscis of hawkmoth pollinators. Consequently, male competition for siring success may influence the evolution of sexual systems in hermaphroditic pollinator-dependent plants.

Ancillary