Article

Hawkmoth Pollinators Decrease Seed Set of a Low-Nectar Petunia axillaris Line through Reduced Probing Time

Institute of Biology, University of Neuchâtel, Emile Argand 13, 2009 Neuchâtel, Switzerland.
Current biology: CB (Impact Factor: 9.92). 07/2012; 22(17):1635-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2012.06.058
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Although deception of floral pollinators is well known among orchids [1, 2], the majority of animal-pollinated plants secure pollination by nectar rewards. The costs and benefits of nectar production remain poorly understood [3-5]. Here, we developed a crossing design to introgress a low-nectar-volume locus of Petunia integrifolia into the genetic background of P. axillaris. The resulting introgression line resembled P. axillaris but produced only one-third of the nectar volume. When exposed simultaneously to low-nectar and wild-type P. axillaris plants, hawkmoth pollinators reduced their probing duration on low-nectar plants but otherwise did not show any signs of discrimination against these plants. However, reduced probing duration resulted in reduced seed production in the low-nectar plants despite their higher reproductive potential as evidenced by hand pollination. In line with this interpretation, we found a positive correlation between probing duration and seed set, and hawkmoth pollination of low-nectar plants that were manually supplemented with nectar to parental levels yielded seed sets similar to hand pollination. Thus, a simple self-serving pollinator behavior-the adjustment of probing time in response to nectar volume-may select against reducing nectar and protect many plant-pollinator mutualisms against a drift toward parasitism. VIDEO ABSTRACT:

2 Followers
 · 
174 Views
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Background The hypothesis that pollinators have been important drivers of angiosperm diversity dates back to Darwin, and remains an important research topic today. Mounting evidence indicates that pollinators have the potential to drive diversification at several different stages of the evolutionary process. Microevolutionary studies have provided evidence for pollinator-mediated floral adaptation, while macroevolutionary evidence supports a general pattern of pollinator-driven diversification of angiosperms. However, the overarching issue of whether, and how, shifts in pollination system drive plant speciation represents a critical gap in knowledge. Bridging this gap is crucial to fully understand whether pollinator-driven microevolution accounts for the observed macroevolutionary patterns. Testable predictions about pollinator-driven speciation can be derived from the theory of ecological speciation, according to which adaptation (microevolution) and speciation (macroevolution) are directly linked. This theory is a particularly suitable framework for evaluating evidence for the processes underlying shifts in pollination systems and their potential consequences for the evolution of reproductive isolation and speciation. Scope This Viewpoint paper focuses on evidence for the four components of ecological speciation in the context of plant-pollinator interactions, namely (1) the role of pollinators as selective agents, (2) floral trait divergence, including the evolution of 'pollination ecotypes', (3) the geographical context of selection on floral traits, and (4) the role of pollinators in the evolution of reproductive isolation. This Viewpoint also serves as the introduction to a Special Issue on Pollinator-Driven Speciation in Plants. The 13 papers in this Special Issue range from microevolutionary studies of ecotypes to macroevolutionary studies of historical ecological shifts, and span a wide range of geographical areas and plant families. These studies further illustrate innovative experimental approaches, and they employ modern tools in genetics and floral trait quantification. Future advances to the field require better quantification of selection through male fitness and pollinator isolation, for instance by exploiting next-generation sequencing technologies. By combining these new tools with strategically chosen study systems, and smart experimental design, we predict that examples of pollinator-driven speciation will be among the most widespread and compelling of all cases of ecological speciation.
    Annals of Botany 01/2014; 113(2):199-212. DOI:10.1093/aob/mct290 · 3.30 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Communication is a characteristic of life, but its reliability and basic definition are hotly debated. Theory predicts that trade among mutualists requires high reliability. Here, we show that moderate reliability already allows mutualists to optimize their rewards. The colours of Mediterranean fleshy-fruits indicate lipid rewards (but not other nutrients) to avian seed dispersers on regional and local scales. On the regional scale, fruits with high lipid content were significantly darker and less chromatic than congeners with lower lipid content. On the local scale, two warbler species (Sylvia atricapilla and Sylvia borin) selected fruit colours that were less chromatic, and thereby maximized their intake of lipids-a critical resource during migration and wintering. Crucially, birds were able to maximize lipid rewards with moderate reliability from visual fruit colours (r(2) = 0.44-0.60). We suggest that mutualisms require only that any association between the quality and sensory aspects of signallers is learned through multiple, repeated interactions. Because these conditions are often fulfilled, also in social communication systems, we contend that selection on reliability is less intense than hitherto assumed. This may contribute to explaining the extraordinary diversity of signals, including that of plant reproductive displays.
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 01/2014; 281(1777):20132516. DOI:10.1098/rspb.2013.2516 · 5.29 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The central question in communication theory is whether communication is reliable, and if so, which mechanisms select for reliability. The primary approach in the past has been to attribute reliability to strategic costs associated with signalling as predicted by the handicap principle. Yet, reliability can arise through other mechanisms, such as signal verification; but the theoretical understanding of such mechanisms has received relatively little attention. Here, we model whether verification can lead to reliability in repeated interactions that typically characterize mutualisms. Specifically, we model whether fruit consumers that discriminate among poor- and good-quality fruits within a population can select for reliable fruit signals. In our model, plants either signal or they do not; costs associated with signalling are fixed and independent of plant quality. We find parameter combinations where discriminating fruit consumers can select for signal reliability by abandoning unprofitable plants more quickly. This self-serving behaviour imposes costs upon plants as a by-product, rendering it unprofitable for unrewarding plants to signal. Thus, strategic costs to signalling are not a prerequisite for reliable communication. We expect verification to more generally explain signal reliability in repeated consumer-resource interactions that typify mutualisms but also in antagonistic interactions such as mimicry and aposematism.
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 09/2013; 280(1771):20131560. DOI:10.1098/rspb.2013.1560 · 5.29 Impact Factor