Floral traits influence the opportunity for selection among male gametophytes: independent and combined effects of style length and petal area

Susan J Mazer, Joseph P Chellew, Kristen Peach
American Journal of Botany 2019 April 25

PREMISE: Strong correlations between traits can obscure their independent effects on components of reproduction. Style length (SL) and petal area (PA) vary within species, for example, but their independent effects on the opportunity for selection among pollen genotypes are poorly understood. Previous work in Clarkia detected a positive effect of SL on pollen receipt, potentially intensifying selection. However, this apparent effect of SL may be influenced by a correlated trait, such as PA. Here, we examine the independent effects of these two traits on pollen receipt and performance.

METHODS: We collected petals and styles from wild populations of two insect-pollinated Clarkia taxa and estimated the independent and combined effects of SL and PA on pollen receipt and performance.

RESULTS: In both taxa, SL and PA are positively correlated. In C. unguiculata, both traits positively and independently affect pollen receipt, but in C. xantiana ssp. xantiana, the two traits act only in combination to affect pollen receipt. In both taxa, pollen receipt positively affects the numbers of pollen tubes entering and penetrating the style, as well as pollen tube attrition.

CONCLUSIONS: The effects of SL and PA on pollen receipt and performance are taxon specific. In C. unguiculata, both traits may be independent targets of selection due to their effects on pollen receipt. In C. xantiana ssp. xantiana, by contrast, the combined (but not independent) effects of SL and PA influence pollen receipt. Ecological differences between these taxa require exploration to understand the mechanisms by which these traits affect pollinator behavior.


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