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Curr Biol. 2009 Jun 9;19(11):919-23. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2009.03.070. Epub 2009 Apr 30.

Bidirectional flower color and shape changes allow a second opportunity for pollination.

Author information

1
School of Biology, University of St Andrews, Fife KY16 9TS, Scotland, UK. pgw@st-and.ac.uk

Abstract

Flowers act as "sensory billboards" with multiple signals (color, morphology, odor) attracting and manipulating potential pollinators. Many use changing signals as indicators that visitation and/or pollination have occurred). Floral color change is commonly used to transmit this information (often correlated with reduced nectar reward) and can be specifically triggered by pollination or visitation. By retaining color-changed flowers, plants benefit from larger floral displays but also indicate at close range which flowers are still rewarding (and still unpollinated), so that visitors forage more efficiently. However, the legume Desmodium setigerum shows a unique ability, if inadequately pollinated, to reverse its flowers' color and shape changes. Single visits by bees mechanically depress the keel and expose stigma and anthers (termed "tripping"); visits also initiate a rapid color change from lilac to white and turquoise and a slower morphological change, the upper petal folding downwards over the reproductive parts. But flowers receiving insufficient pollen can partially reopen, re-exposing the stigma, with a further color change to deeper turquoise and/or lilac. Thus, most flowers achieve pollination from one bee visit, but those with inadequate pollen receipt can reverse their signals, earning a "second chance" by eliciting attention from other potential pollinators.

PMID:
19409788
DOI:
10.1016/j.cub.2009.03.070
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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