AoB PLANTS 12(4): plaa016 (June 2020)
Effect of heterospecific pollen deposition on pollen tube growth depends on the phylogenetic relatedness between donor and recipient
Nathália Streher, Pedro Bergamo, Tia-Lynn Ruth Ashman, Marina Wolowski

Co-flowering plant species may interact via pollinators leading to heterospecific pollen transfer with consequences for plant reproduction. What determines the severity of heterospecific pollen effect on conspecific pollen performance is unclear, but it may depend on the phylogenetic relatedness of the interactors (pollen donors and recipient). The heterospecific pollen effect might also depend on the extent to which plants are exposed to heterospecific pollen over ecological or evolutionary timescales. For instance, generalist-pollinated plant species might tolerate heterospecific pollen more than specialists. Here, we tested whether heterospecific pollen effects are stronger between closely related species than phylogenetically distant ones in a tropical highland community. Then, based on these results, we determined whether responses to heterospecific pollen were stronger in generalized vs. specialized plant species. We applied heterospecific pollen from close (congeneric) or distant (different families) donors alone or with conspecific pollen on stigmas of three recipient species (one generalist, Sisyrinchium wettsteinii; and two specialists, Fuchsia campos-portoi and Fuchsia regia) and scored pollen tube performance in styles. In all species, pollen from closely related donors grew pollen tubes to the base of the style indicating a high potential to interfere with seed set. Conversely, distantly related heterospecific pollen had no effect on either specialist Fuchsia species, whereas enhanced performance of conspecific pollen was observed in generalist S. wettsteinii. The strong effect of phylogenetic relatedness of donor and recipient might have obscured the role of pollination specialization, at least for the three species examined here. Therefore, phylogenetic relatedness mediated the effect of heterospecific pollen on post-pollination success, with possible consequences for reproductive trait evolution and community assembly for further studies to explore.

Pollen Mixtures