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Am J Bot. 2008 Dec;95(12):1652-9. doi: 10.3732/ajb.0800118.

Geographic divergence in floral morphology and scent in Linanthus dichotomus (Polemoniaceae).

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San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, California 94132 USA.


Floral reproductive morphology and scent are of primary importance to pollinators in guiding foraging decisions. We compared the floral scent and reproductive morphology between two subspecies of Linanthus dichotomus (Polemoniaceae) that are taxonomically distinguished by geography and flowering time: the vespertine L. dichotomus subsp. dichotomus and the diurnal L. dichotomus subsp. meridianus. Disparity in flowering time between the two subspecies is accompanied by differences in flower visitors. We collected floral volatiles using dynamic headspace methods and analyzed them using gas chromatography and mass spectroscopy. Together, the subspecies produced a total of 39 floral scent compounds. Subspecies differ in the quantitative pattern of volatiles that attract noctuid moths (e.g., lilac aldehydes) vs. a more general suite of visitors (e.g., phenylacetaldehyde), but not in overall scent emission rates. A discriminant function analysis correctly distinguished between the two subspecies based on scent samples 86% of the time. We measured seven reproductive morphological traits; a discriminant function analysis distinguished between the two subspecies based on morphological samples 81% of the time. We found significant differences between subspecies in scent but not in individual morphological traits. The evidence presented here is most consistent with a hypothesis of pollinator-mediated selection.

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