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Effective pollinators of Asian sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucífera): contemporary pollinators may not reflect the historical pollination syndrome

Jiao-Kun Li and Shuang-Quan Huang
Annals of Botany
Vol. 104, No. 5 (October 2009), pp. 845-851
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/43576357
Page Count: 7
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Effective pollinators of Asian sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucífera): contemporary pollinators may not reflect the historical pollination syndrome
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Abstract

• Background and Aims If stabilizing selection by pollinators is a prerequisite for pollinator-mediated floral evolution, spatiotemporal variation in the pollinator assemblage may confuse the plant-pollinator interaction in a given species. Here, effective pollinators in a living fossil plant Nelumbo nucífera (Nelumbonaceae) were examined to test whether beetles are major pollinators as predicted by its pollination syndrome. • Methods Pollinators of N. nucífera were investigated in 11 wild populations and one cultivated population, and pollination experiments were conducted to examine the pollinating role of two major pollinators (bees and beetles) in three populations. • Key Results Lotus flowers are protogynous, bowl shaped and without nectar. The fragrant flowers can be self-heating during anthesis and produce around 1 million pollen grains per flower. It was found that bees and flies were the most frequent flower visitors in wild populations, contributing on average 87-9 and 494 % of seed set in Mishan and Lantian, respectively. Beetles were only found in one wild population and in the cultivated population, but the pollinator exclusion experiments showed that beetles were effective pollinators of Asian sacred lotus. • Conclusions This study indicated that in their pollinating role, beetles, probable pollinators for this thermoregulating plant, had been replaced by some generalist insects in the wild. This finding implies that contemporary pollinators may not reflect the pollination syndrome.

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