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Patterns of pollen flow in monomorphic enantiostylous species: the importance of floral morphology and pollinators’ size

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Enantiostyly is a floral polymorphism consisting in the presence of two floral morphs that differ in the deflection of the style to the right or left in the populations. Monomorphic enantiostyly consists in plants showing both morphs within an individual and is thought to promote pollen transference between morphs, reduce levels of self-pollination and geitonogamy and avoid damage to floral parts during pollinator’s visit. In this study, we examined the function of this floral polymorphism in a group of plants with non-typical enantiostylous characteristics, the family Vochysiaceae. In particular, we evaluated how floral morphology (both sexual organ separation and the match between complementary sexual organs in the morphs) is related to pollen deposition on the pollinators’ body and to patterns of pollen flow among individuals. For this, we used floral morphometrics, insect captures and fluorescent powder dyes. We confirmed that monomorphic enantiostyly increased pollen transference between morphs compared to non-enantiostyly. Moreover, pollen flow occurred only between flowers of opposite morph. We also observed that pollen deposition on the insect’s body depended on their body shape rather than floral morphology. In fact, an intertegular distance slightly larger than the anther–stigma distance in the flowers increased pollen transference because anthers filaments and stigmas are flexible, which facilitated pollen brushing on insects’ body when approaching the flowers. Since the species are self-incompatible, we further discuss the role of mirror flowers in the reduction of geitonogamy and inbreeding depression.

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We thank Dr. Antônio José Camilo de Aguiar for helping in the identification of insects. We are also grateful to the IBGE and the Linda Serra dos Topázios Reserve for the authorization to collect in these areas. This study was supported by the Percy Sladen Memorial Fund through the 2016 call. The Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) funded the work of VF (SFRH/BPD/108707/2015), and the CAPES supported the work of Joicy M. Moráis.

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Correspondence to Victoria Ferrero.

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Online Resource 1. Measures taken in the flowers of Qualea parviflora and Q. multiflora (in the photograph Q. parviflora). White horizontal traces correspond to the anther–floral axis distance, stigma–floral axis and anther–stigma. Black vertical dashed line represents the floral axis (sagittal plane).

Online Resource 2. Examples of Qualea parviflora flowers with fluorescent powder placed on the anthers. a Right flower with green fluorescent powder on anther; b left flower with pink fluorescent powder on anther; c flower with reproductive floral pieces attached simulating a non-enantiostylous condition with blue fluorescent powder; and d flowers simulating the non-enantiostylous condition without fluorescent powder (non-enantiostylous receptor).

Online Resource 3. Mean and standard deviation of anther–floral distance, stigma–floral distance and anther–stigma distance in populations of Qualea parviflora and Q. multiflora.

Online Resource 4. Number of pollen grains deposited in different parts (abdomen, head and lateral) of the bees’ body in aQualea parviflora; bQ. multiflora.

Online Resource 5. Pollen deposition on the body of floral visitors of Qualea parviflora and Q. multiflora, separated by groups of floral visitors.

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Morais, J.M., Consolaro, H.N., Bergamini, L.L. et al. Patterns of pollen flow in monomorphic enantiostylous species: the importance of floral morphology and pollinators’ size. Plant Syst Evol 306, 22 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00606-020-01627-1

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  • Brazilian Cerrado
  • Fluorescent dye
  • Mirror-image flowers
  • Pollination
  • Qualea multiflora
  • Qualea parviflora