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Moonlight pollination in the gymnosperm Ephedra (Gnetales)
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences.
2015 (English)In: Biology Letters, ISSN 1744-9561, E-ISSN 1744-957X, Vol. 11, no 4, 20140993Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Most gymnosperms are wind-pollinated, but some are insect-pollinated, and in Ephedra (Gnetales), both wind pollination and insect pollination occur. Little is, however, known about mechanisms and evolution of pollination syndromes in gymnosperms. Based on four seasons of field studies, we show an unexpected correlation between pollination and the phases of the moon in one of our studied species, Ephedra foeminea. It is pollinated by dipterans and lepidopterans, most of them nocturnal, and its pollination coincides with the full moon of July. This may be adaptive in two ways. Many nocturnal insects navigate using the moon. Further, the spectacular reflection of the full-moonlight in the pollination drops is the only apparent means of nocturnal attraction of insects in these plants. In the sympatric but wind-pollinated Ephedra distachya, pollination is not correlated to the full moon but occurs at approximately the same dates every year. The lunar correlation has probably been lost in most species of Ephedra subsequent an evolutionary shift to wind pollination in the clade. When the services of insects are no longer needed for successful pollination, the adaptive value of correlating pollination with the full moon is lost, and conceivably also the trait.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 11, no 4, 20140993
Keyword [en]
anemophily, entomophily, lunar phases, nocturnal insects
National Category
Biological Sciences
Research subject
Plant Systematics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-117489DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2014.0993ISI: 000353349400002OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-117489DiVA: diva2:815335
Note

AuthorCount:2;

Available from: 2015-05-29 Created: 2015-05-20 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Pollen and pollination in Ephedra (Gnetales)
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Pollen and pollination in Ephedra (Gnetales)
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Ephedra (Gnetales) is a gymnosperm genus with a long evolutionary history; the first dispersed pollen grains with affinity to the group are known already from the Permian. This thesis focuses on the evolutionary history of the group and different aspects of its pollination mechanisms. Despite the limited number of extant species of the genus (50-60), and a low morphological and genetic divergence among species, there is variation in pollination syndrome in the genus. The prevailing state in Ephedra, and most gymnosperms, is wind pollination. It is therefore surprising that one species, E. foeminea, is insect-pollinated. Together with co-workers I documented the pollination syndromes of E. foeminea and a sympatric species, E. distachya, based on long term field experiments in north-eastern Greece and aerodynamic investigations and calculations. Placing the results into an evolutionary framework reveals that the insect-pollinated species E. foeminea is sister to the remaining (mostly wind-pollinated) genus, and indicates that insect pollination is the ancestral state in the Gnetales. During the course of evolution of the group there has been a shift to wind pollination, which may have played a crucial role for the diversification of the crown group in the Paleogene. Pollination biology is often correlated with the morphology of the pollen such that pollen grains of anemophilous plants are small with a smooth surface, whereas pollen grains of entomophilous plants are larger with an ornamented surface and a covering of pollenkitt. The pollen morphology of Ephedra can be broadly divided into two types: an ancestral type with an unbranched pseudosulcus between each pair of plicae, and a derived type with a branched pseudosulcus between each pair of plicae. Further, the pollen morphology and ultrastructure of the pollen wall in Ephedra are to some degree correlated with the pollination syndrome and capability of long distance dispersal. Pollen of E. foeminea has a denser ultrastructure, as a result a higher settling velocity and is therefore capable of flying shorter distances than does pollen of the anemophilous E. distachya, and other investigated anemophilous species that show a more spacious ultrastructure of the pollen grain. These results can be useful in the reconstruction of the pollination mechanism of extinct taxa of the Ephedra-lineage in the future.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences, Stockholm University, 2017. 46 p.
Keyword
aerodynamics, evolution, moonlight, pollination, pollen morphology, ultrastructure
National Category
Evolutionary Biology Botany
Research subject
Plant Systematics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-140771 (URN)978-91-7649-774-6 (ISBN)978-91-7649-775-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-05-19, Vivi Täckholmsalen (Q-salen), NPQ-huset, Svante Arrhenius väg 20, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-04-26 Created: 2017-03-16 Last updated: 2017-04-03Bibliographically approved

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