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Heterostyly and pollinators in Plumbago auriculata (Plumbaginaceae)

Plants with hermaphrodite flowers risk conflict between male and female sexual function due to close proximity of sexual organs. Heterostyly, a genetic floral polymorphism characterized mainly by reciprocal herkogamy, may reduce this sexual conflict by increasing the precision of pollen transfer between morphs. This sexual organ reciprocity is often associated with various ancillary characters and a heteromorphic incompatibility system.

Fig1. Short-morph (S) and Long-morph (L) flowers of Plumbago auriculata. Numbers correspond to the morphometric measurements recorded for each flower: side view: (1) corolla length; (2) style length; (3) stamen height; front view: (4) corolla width. The top of the corolla tube was slit longitudinally to facilitate measurements.
Scale bar=10 mm.

Here we describe the morphometrics associated with heterostyly and ancillary characters in Plumbago auriculata. Using controlled pollination experiments, we show that this species has a heteromorphic incompatibility system.

Fig2. Left: Variation in the standardized height of style (•) and stamen length (º) in Plumbago auriculata. Individuals in each plot are ordered by increasing style length. Right: Pollen grains. A) L-morph; B) S-morph. Scale bar=20 µm.

We also document the fauna of long-proboscid fly and butterfly pollinators in a P. auriculata population in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Fig3. Pollinators of Plumbago auriculata in the Richmond population. A, C) Philoliche aethiopica; B) Papilio demodocus; D) Nomia sp; E) Pieris sp.


 
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