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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Jan 8;105(1):240-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0707989105. Epub 2008 Jan 2.

Early steps of angiosperm pollinator coevolution.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Indiana University Southeast, New Albany, IN 47150, USA. hus@ius.edu

Abstract

The hypothesis that early flowering plants were insect-pollinated could be tested by an examination of the pollination biology of basal angiosperms and the pollination modes of fossil angiosperms. We provide data to show that early fossil angiosperms were insect-pollinated. Eighty-six percent of 29 extant basal angiosperm families have species that are zoophilous (of which 34% are specialized) and 17% of the families have species that are wind-pollinated, whereas basal eudicot families and basal monocot families more commonly have wind and specialized pollination modes (up to 78%). Character reconstruction based on recent molecular trees of angiosperms suggests that the most parsimonious result is that zoophily is the ancestral state. Combining pollen ornamentation, size, and aperture characteristics and the abundance of single-species pollen clumps of Cenomanian angiosperm-dispersed pollen species from the Dakota Formation demonstrates a dominance of zoophilous pollination (76% versus 24% wind pollination). The zoophilous pollen species have adaptations for pollination by generalist insects (39%), specialized pollen-collecting insects (27%), and other specialized pollinators (10%). These data quantify the presences of more specialized pollination modes during the mid-Cretaceous angiosperm diversification.

PMID:
18172206
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2224194
Free PMC Article
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