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A Sexually Dimorphic Corolla Appendage Affects Pollen Removal and Floral Longevity in Gynodioecious Cyananthus delavayi (Campanulaceae)
The floral traits of bisexual flowers may evolve in response to selection on both male and female functions, but the relative importance of selection associated with each of these two aspects is poorly resolved. Sexually dimorphic traits in plants with unisexual flowers may reflect gender-specific selection, providing opportunities for gaining an increased understanding of the evolution of specific floral traits. We examined sexually dimorphic patterns of floral traits in perfect and female flowers of the gynodioecious species Cyananthus delavayi. A special corolla appendage, the throat hair, was investigated experimentally to examine its influences on male and female function. We found that perfect flowers have larger corollas and much longer throat hairs than female flowers, while female ones have much exerted stigmas. The presence of throat hairs prolonged the duration of pollen presentation by restricting the amount of pollen removed by pollen-collecting bees during each visit. Floral longevity was negatively related to the rate of pollen removal. When pollen removal rate was limited in perfect flowers, the duration of the female phases diminished with the increased male phase duration. There was a weak negative correlation between throat hair length and seed number per fruit in female flowers, but this correlation was not significant in perfect flowers. These results suggest that throat hairs may enhance male function in terms of prolonged pollen presentation. However, throat hairs have no obvious effect on female function in terms of seed number per fruit. The marked sexual dimorphism of this corolla appendage in C. delavayi is likely to have evolved and been maintained by gender-specific selection.
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0117149
 

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The floral traits of bisexual flowers may evolve in response to selection on both male and female functions, but the relative importance of selection associated with each of these two aspects is poorly resolved. Sexually dimorphic traits in plants with unisexual flowers may reflect gender-specific selection, providing opportunities for gaining an increased understanding of the evolution of specific floral traits.

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