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Am J Bot. 2001 Oct;88(10):1760-7.

Reproductive biology and natural hybridization between two endemic species of Pitcairnia (Bromeliaceae).

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Departamento de Botânica, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, CCS, IB, cep 21941-590, Rio de Janeiro-RJ, Brazil;


We investigated pollination biology and breeding systems in hybridizing populations of Pitcairnia albiflos and P. staminea; both species are endemic to rocky outcrops at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. These species are morphologically distinct and easily recognized by floral color: white in P. albiflos and red in P. staminea. Putative hybrids show a large range of intermediate pink floral colors. The showy hermaphroditic flowers offer pollen and nectar that attract many visitors including bees, butterflies, hawk moths, and bats. Although the flowers of both parental species and hybrids open at night, only P. albiflos had other adaptations for nocturnal pollination. Flowering times overlapped during three consecutive years of observation. Bees visited both species and putative hybrids. Cross-pollinations were performed within and among parental species and hybrids in a greenhouse using plants transplanted from the field. Pitcairnia staminea and hybrids are self-compatible and could be spontaneously self-pollinated, whereas P. albiflos, though self-compatible, needs pollinators' services for self-pollination. Facultative agamospermy was found in the parental species. Prezygotic and postzygotic reproductive barriers between these taxa were weak. Reciprocal hand-pollinations between parental species and with hybrids yielded high fruit sets with viable seeds. Evaluations of fruit set, seed set, seed germination, and pollen viability were undertaken to compare the fitness of the hybrids relative to their parents. The hybrids showed equivalent fitness, except for lower pollen viability. Some conservation implications are noted.

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