60 million years of co-divergence in the fig-wasp symbiosis.
Figs (Ficus; ca 750 species) and fig wasps (Agaoninae) are obligate mutualists: all figs are pollinated by agaonines that feed exclusively on figs. This extraordinary symbiosis is the most extreme example of specialization in a plant-pollinator interaction and has fuelled much speculation about co-divergence. The hypothesis that pollinator specialization led to the parallel diversification of fig and pollinator lineages (co-divergence) has so far not been tested due to the lack of robust and comprehensive phylogenetic hypotheses for both partners. We produced and combined the most comprehensive molecular phylogenetic trees to date with fossil data to generate independent age estimates for fig and pollinator lineages, using both non-parametric rate smoothing and penalized likelihood dating methods. Molecular dating of ten pairs of interacting lineages provides an unparalleled example of plant-insect co-divergence over a geological time frame spanning at least 60 million years. (+info)
Adaptive plasticity of floral display size in animal-pollinated plants.
Plants need not participate passively in their own mating, despite their immobility and reliance on pollen vectors. Instead, plants may respond to their recent pollination experience by adjusting the number of flowers that they display simultaneously. Such responsiveness could arise from the dependence of floral display size on the longevity of individual flowers, which varies with pollination rate in many plant species. By hand-pollinating some inflorescences, but not others, we demonstrate plasticity in display size of the orchid Satyrium longicauda. Pollination induced flower wilting, but did not affect the opening of new flowers, so that within a few days pollinated inflorescences displayed fewer flowers than unpollinated inflorescences. During subsequent exposure to intensive natural pollination, pollen removal and receipt increased proportionally with increasing display size, whereas pollen-removal failure and self-pollination accelerated. Such benefit-cost relations allow plants that adjust display size in response to the prevailing pollination rate to increase their attractiveness when pollinators are rare (large displays), or to limit mating costs when pollinators are abundant (small displays). Seen from this perspective, pollination-induced flower wilting serves the entire plant by allowing it to display the number of flowers that is appropriate for the current pollination environment. (+info)
A group-1 grass pollen allergen influences the outcome of pollen competition in maize.
Worldwide, 400 million people suffer from hay fever and seasonal asthma. The major causative agents of these allergies are pollen specific proteins called the group-1 grass pollen allergens. Although details of their antigenicity have been studied for 40 years with an eye towards immunotherapy, their function in the plant has drawn scant attention. Zea m 1 constitutes a class of abundant grass pollen allergens coded for by several genes that loosen the walls of grass cells, including the maize stigma and style. We have examined the impact of a transposon insertion into one of these genes (EXPB1, the most abundant isoform of Zea m 1) on the production of Zea m 1 protein, pollen viability, and pollen tube growth, both in vitro and in vivo. We also examined the effect of the insertional mutation on the competitive ability of the pollen by experimentally varying the sizes of the pollen load deposited onto stigmas using pollen from heterozygous plants and then screening the progeny for the presence of the transposon using PCR. We found that the insertional mutation reduced the levels of Zea m 1 in maize pollen, but had no effect on pollen viability, in vitro pollen tube growth or the proportion of progeny sired when small pollen loads are deposited onto stigmas. However, when large pollen loads are deposited onto the stigmas, the transposon mutation is vastly underrepresented in the progeny, indicating that this major pollen allergen has a large effect on pollen tube growth rates in vivo, and plays an important role in determining the outcome of the pollen-pollen competition for access to the ovules. We propose that the extraordinary abundance (4% of the extractable protein in maize pollen) of this major pollen allergen is the result of selection for a trait that functions primarily in providing differential access to ovules. (+info)
Meteorological input data requirements to predict cross-pollination of GMO maize with Lagrangian approaches.
Modeling pollen dispersal to predict cross-pollination is of great importance for the ongoing discussion of adventitious presence of genetically modified material in food and feed. Two different modeling approaches for pollen dispersal were used to simulate two years of data for the rate of cross-pollination of non-GM maize (Zea mays (L.)) fields by pollen from a central 1 ha transgenic field. The models combine the processes of wind pollen dispersal (transport) and pollen competition. Both models used for the simulation of pollen dispersal were Lagrangian approaches: a stochastic particle Lagrange model and a Lagrangian transfer function model. Both modeling approaches proved to be appropriate for the simulation of the cross-pollination rates. However, model performance differed significantly between years. We considered different complexity in meteorological input data. Predictions compare well with experimental results for all simplification steps, except that systematic deviations occurred when only main wind direction was used. Concluding, it can be pointed out that both models might be adapted to other pollen dispersal experiments of different crops and plot sizes, when wind direction statistics are available. However, calibration of certain model parameters is necessary. (+info)
Gene flow from GM glyphosate-tolerant to conventional soybeans under field conditions in Japan.
Natural out-crossing rates were evaluated for conventional soybeans (Glycine max (L.) Merr.) cultivated adjacent to genetically modified (GM) glyphosate-tolerant soybeans under field conditions during a four-year period in Japan. A total of 107 846 progeny of 2772 plants harvested from conventional varieties were screened for glyphosate herbicide tolerance. The highest out-crossing rates, 0.19% in 2001 and 0.16% in 2002, were observed in adjacent rows 0.7 m from the pollen source. The highest rate in 2004 was 0.052%, which was observed at 2.1 m. No out-crossing was observed in the rows 10.5 m from the pollen source over the four-year period. The farthest distances between receptor and pollen source at which out-crossing was observed were 7 m in 2001, 2.8 m in 2002, and 3.5 m in 2004. The greatest airborne pollen density during the flowering period, determined by Durham pollen samplers located between the rows of each variety, was 0.368 grains.cm(-2).day(-1), with the average value at 0.18 grains.cm(-2).day(-1), indicating that the possibility of out-crossing by wind is minimal. Thrips species and predatory Hemiptera visited the soybean flowers more frequently during the four-year period than any other common pollinators, such as bees. (+info)
Decreased panicle-derived indole-3-acetic acid reduces gibberellin A1 level in the uppermost internode, causing panicle enclosure in male sterile rice Zhenshan 97A.
Cytoplasmic male sterile (CMS) rice Zhenshan 97A (ZS97A) has been widely used in hybrid rice production in China. However, ZS97A suffers from serious panicle enclosure, which blocks normal pollination and greatly reduces seed production of hybrid rice. Little is known about the cause of panicle closure in ZS97A. In this study, it was found that the occurrence of cytoplasmic male sterility caused a deficiency of indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) in ZS97A panicles, and less IAA was provided to the uppermost internode (UI). Further, it was found that the decreased panicle-derived IAA caused a gibberellin A(1) (GA(1)) deficiency in the UI by the down-regulation of OsGA3ox2 transcript level. Reduced GA(1) level in the UI led to decreases of both cell number and cell elongation, resulting in a shortened UI. The shortened UI was unable to push the panicle out of the flag leaf sheath that remained normal, which resulted in panicle enclosure in ZS97A. These findings suggest that decreased panicle-derived IAA reduces the GA(1) level in the UI, causing panicle enclosure in CMS rice ZS97A. (+info)
Segregation analyses of partial self-incompatibility in self and cross progeny of Solanum carolinense reveal a leaky S-allele.
Natural populations of self-incompatible species often exhibit marked phenotypic variation among individuals in the strength of self-incompatibility (SI). In previous studies, we found that the strength of the SI response in Solanum carolinense, a weedy invasive with RNase-mediated SI, is a plastic trait. Selfing can be particularly important for weeds and other successional species that typically undergo repeated colonization and local extinction events and whose population sizes are often small. We applied a PCR-based protocol to identify the S-alleles present in 16 maternal genotypes and their offspring and performed a two-generation greenhouse study to determine whether variation in the strength of SI is due to the existence of weak and strong S-alleles differing in their ability to recognize and reject self-pollen. We found that allele S9 sets significantly more self seed than the other S-alleles in the population we sampled and that its ability to self is not dependent on interactions with other S-alleles. Our data suggest that the observed variations in self-fertility are likely due to factors that directly influence the expression of SI by altering the translation, turnover, or activity of the S-RNase. The variability in the strength of SI among individuals that we have observed in this and our previous studies raises the possibility that plasticity in the strength of SI in S. carolinense may play a role in the colonization and establishment of this weedy species. (+info)
Variability in floral scent in rewarding and deceptive orchids: the signature of pollinator-imposed selection?
BACKGROUND AND AIMS: A comparative investigation was made of floral scent variation in the closely related, food-rewarding Anacamptis coriophora and the food-deceptive Anacamptis morio in order to identify patterns of variability of odour compounds in the two species and their role in pollinator attraction/avoidance learning. METHODS: Scent was collected from plants in natural populations and samples were analysed via quantitative gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. Combined gas chromatography and electroantennographic detection was used to identify compounds that are detected by the pollinators. Experimental reduction of scent variability was performed in the field with plots of A. morio plants supplemented with a uniform amount of anisaldehyde. KEY RESULTS: Both orchid species emitted complex odour bouquets. In A. coriophora the two main benzenoid compounds, hydroquinone dimethyl ether (1,4-dimethoxybenzene) and anisaldehyde (methoxybenzaldehyde), triggered electrophysiological responses in olfactory neurons of honey-bee and bumble-bee workers. The scent of A. morio, however, was too weak to elicit any electrophysiological responses. The overall variation in scent was significantly lower in the rewarding A. coriophora than in the deceptive A. morio, suggesting pollinator avoidance-learning selecting for high variation in the deceptive species. A. morio flowers supplemented with non-variable scent in plot experiments, however, did not show significantly reduced pollination success. CONCLUSIONS: Whereas in the rewarding A. coriophora stabilizing selection imposed by floral constancy of the pollinators may reduce scent variability, in the deceptive A. morio the emitted scent seems to be too weak to be detected by pollinators and thus its high variability may result from relaxed selection on this floral trait. (+info)