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Pollen packaging and dispensing: adaption of patterns of anther dehiscence and flowering traits to pollination in three Epimedium species

Authors

  • X.-X. Li,

    1. College of Life Sciences, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China
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  • H. Wang,

    1. College of Life Sciences, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China
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  • R. W. Gituru,

    1. Sino-African Biodiversity Resource Conservation centre, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Nairobi, Kenya
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  • Y.-H. Guo,

    Corresponding author
    1. College of Life Sciences, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China
    • Correspondence

      Y.-H. Guo, College of Life Sciences, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430072, China.

      E-mail: yhguo@whu.edu.cn

      C.-F. Yang, Key Laboratory of Aquatic Botany and Watershed Ecology, Wuhan Botanical Garden, The Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan 430074, China.

      E-mail: cfyang@wbgcas.cn

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  • C.-F. Yang

    Corresponding author
    1. Key Laboratory of Aquatic Botany and Watershed Ecology, Wuhan Botanical Garden, The Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan, China
    • Correspondence

      Y.-H. Guo, College of Life Sciences, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430072, China.

      E-mail: yhguo@whu.edu.cn

      C.-F. Yang, Key Laboratory of Aquatic Botany and Watershed Ecology, Wuhan Botanical Garden, The Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan 430074, China.

      E-mail: cfyang@wbgcas.cn

    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

Pollen presentation theory (PPT) predicts that plant species typically pollinated by frequent and wasteful pollinators ought to be much more parsimonious and only gradually release pollen compared to plant species pollinated by infrequent pollinators that are efficient at delivering the pollen they remove. To test PPT, we compare the pollen presentation schedules and pollination systems in three related Epimedium species, having different pollinators. Results showed that differences in anther dehiscence and flowering traits resulted in different pollen packaging schedules. For Esutchuenense and Efranchetii, a special ‘roll-up’ movement of the anther wall during anther dehiscence increased pollen removal compared to the dehiscence pattern in Emikinorii, which lacked the ‘roll-up’ movement. Investigations revealed that honeybees had a higher pollen removal rate and lower stigmatic pollen load compared to bumblebees. In accordance with PPT, Esutchuenense presents pollen sequentially and slowly for the frequent and wasteful honeybees. In comparison to Esutchuenense, Efranchetii had a faster presentation rate and was adapted to the efficient and infrequent bumblebees. However, Emikinorii was pollinated by both bumblebees and honeybees at high frequency and had the fastest pollen presentation. This pattern could reduce pollen wastage by honeybees and might be an adaptation to its short flower longevity (less than 1 day), to increase the chances of pollen deposition on stigmas. The study indicates that pollen presentation schedules can be a consequence of interactions among anther dehiscence, flowering traits and pollination environments for a given species.

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