Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Stamen


The daylily (Hemerocallis fulva) and nightlily (H. citrina) are typical examples of a butterfly-pollination system and a hawkmoth-pollination system, respectively. H. fulva has diurnal, reddish or orange-colored flowers and is mainly pollinated by diurnal swallowtail butterflies. H. citrina has nocturnal, yellowish flowers with a sweet fragrance and is pollinated by nocturnal hawkmoths. We evaluated the relative roles of flower color and scent on the evolutionary shift from a diurnally flowering ancestor to H. citrina. We conducted a series of experiments that mimic situations in which mutants differing in either flower color, floral scent or both appeared in a diurnally flowering population. An experimental array of 6 × 6 potted plants, mixed with 24 plants of H. fulva and 12 plants of either F1 or F2 hybrids, were placed in the field, and visitations of swallowtail butterflies and nocturnal hawkmoths were recorded with camcorders. Swallowtail butterflies preferentially visited reddish or orange-colored flowers and hawkmoths preferentially visited yellowish flowers. Neither swallowtail butterflies nor nocturnal hawkmoths showed significant preferences for overall scent emission. Our results suggest that mutations in flower color would be more relevant to the adaptive shift from a diurnally flowering ancestor to H. citrina than that in floral scent.

Concepts: Fruit, Pollination, Flower, Pollinator decline, Pollination syndrome, Pollen, Flowers, Stamen


Iridaceae is one of the few families in which floral oils are produced and collected by pollinators as a resource. Perigonal nectaries and trichomal elaiophores are highly unusual within the tribe Sisyrinchieae. Both structures occur mainly on the staminal column, while they are usually distributed on the tepals in the other tribes of the subfamily Iridoideae. Sisyrinchieae is the largest tribe of Iridaceae present on the American continent, and the diversity observed may be related to the exceptional development of trichomal elaiophores within the genus Sisyrinchium, but knowledge concerning the other types of nuptial glandular structures within the tribe is still limited, preventing us from estimating their implication for species diversity. Structural observations and histochemical tests were performed to identify and characterize glandular structures and pollen rewards within the flowers of the genera Orthrosanthus, Sisyrinchium and Solenomelus. Perigonal nectaries were detected only in Solenomelus segethi, and trichomal elaiophores were characterized only within Sisyrinchium. All species showed large amounts of additional resources available for pollinators in the form of pollenkitt and polysaccharides present in the cytoplasm of the pollen grains. The results are discussed in a phylogenetic context, with regard to pollinators and floral rewards reported for the tribe Sisyrinchieae.

Concepts: Species, Pollination, Flower, Pollen, Iridaceae, Stamen, Sisyrinchieae, Sisyrinchium


The diversity of angiosperm flowers depends on organ meristy and position. However, the signalling pathways that establish polarity and positional information remain largely unelucidated. Use of the founder-cell marker DORNRÖSCHEN-LIKE (DRNL) in Arabidopsis has recently highlighted the importance of the abaxial-adaxial axis for early floral development. We have extended the use of DRNL::GFP to further characterise floral organogenesis in genotypes that are altered in floral organ meristy or position, including ettin (ett-3) and blade-on-petiole (bop)1-11 bop2-4 double mutants. The creation of supernumery sepals by the splitting of sepal founder-cell populations along an ab-/adaxial axis strengthens the importance of the ab-/adaxial developmental axis in early floral meristem development. Furthermore, we confirm the dependency of the wildtype sequence of sepal initiation on bract suppression and demonstrate that supernumery stamens derive from the imprecise resolution of a ring of DRNL expression. Expression of DRNL in apetala1 (ap1-1) and ap2-8 mutants reflect the altered whorl structure and show that these homeotic genes function upstream of DRNL. Analysing the dynamism of early floral meristem ontogeny at a fine temporal and spatial resolution in Arabidopsis can reveal mechanisms of organogenesis and is applicable to other species with differing floral body plans in a comparative evolutionary context.

Concepts: Gene, Evolution, Developmental biology, Flowering plant, Flower, Petal, Sepal, Stamen


Flower, enclosed ovule and tetrasporangiate anther are three major characters distinguishing angiosperms from other seed plants. Morphologically, typical flowers are characterised by an organisation with gynoecium and androecium surrounded by corolla and calyx. Theoretically, flowers are derived from their counterparts in ancient ancestral gymnosperms. However, as for when, how and from which groups, there is no consensus among botanists yet. Although angiosperm-like pollen and angiosperms have been claimed in the Triassic and Jurassic, typical flowers with the aforesaid three key characters are still missing in the pre-Cretaceous age, making many interpretations of flower evolution tentative. Thus searching for flower in the pre-Cretaceous has been a tantalising task for palaeobotanists for a long time. Here, we report a typical flower, Euanthus panii gen. et sp. nov., from the Middle-Late Jurassic of Liaoning, China. Euanthus has sepals, petals, androecium with tetrasporangiate dithecate anthers and gynoecium with enclosed ovules, organised just like in perfect flowers of extant angiosperms. The discovery of Euanthus implies that typical angiosperm flowers have already been in place in the Jurassic, and provides a new insight unavailable otherwise for the evolution of flowers.

Concepts: Pollination, Plant morphology, Flowering plant, Flower, Pollen, Plant sexuality, Sepal, Stamen


Interaction networks are widely used as tools to understand plant-pollinator communities, and to examine potential threats to plant diversity and food security if the ecosystem service provided by pollinating animals declines. However, most networks to date are based on recording visits to flowers, rather than recording clearly defined effective pollination events. Here we provide the first networks that explicitly incorporate measures of pollinator effectiveness (PE) from pollen deposition on stigmas per visit, and pollinator importance (PI) as the product of PE and visit frequency. These more informative networks, here produced for a low diversity heathland habitat, reveal that plant-pollinator interactions are more specialized than shown in most previous studies. At the studied site, the specialization index [Formula: see text] was lower for the visitation network than the PE network, which was in turn lower than [Formula: see text] for the PI network. Our study shows that collecting PE data is feasible for community-level studies in low diversity communities and that including information about PE can change the structure of interaction networks. This could have important consequences for our understanding of threats to pollination systems.

Concepts: Ecology, Pollination, Flower, Pollinator decline, Pollination syndrome, Pollen, Pollinator, Stamen


Jasmonates are well known plant signaling components required for stress responses and development. A prominent feature of jasmonate biosynthesis or signaling mutants is the loss of fertility. In contrast to the male sterile phenotype of Arabidopsis mutants, the tomato mutant jai1-1 exhibits female sterility with additional severe effects on stamen and pollen development. Its senescence phenotype suggests a function of jasmonates in regulation of processes known to be mediated by ethylene. To test the hypothesis that ethylene involved in tomato stamen development is regulated by jasmonates, a temporal profiling of hormone content, transcriptome and metabolome of tomato stamens was performed using wild type and jai1-1.

Concepts: Scientific method, Gene, Gene expression, Metabolism, Pollination, Flower, Pollen, Stamen


Bird pollination has evolved repeatedly among flowering plants but is almost exclusively characterized by passive transfer of pollen onto the bird and by nectar as primary reward [1, 2]. Food body rewards are exceedingly rare among eudicot flowering plants and are only known to occur on sterile floral organs [3]. In this study, we report an alternative bird pollination mechanism involving bulbous stamen appendages in the Neotropical genus Axinaea (Melastomataceae). We studied the pollination process by combining pollination experiments, video monitoring, and detailed analyses of stamen structure and metabolomic composition. We show that the bulbous stamen appendages, which are consumed by various species of passerines (Thraupidae, Fringillidae), are bifunctional during the pollination process. First, the appendages work as bellows organs in a unique pollen expulsion mechanism activated by the passerines. As the birds seize an appendage with their beaks in order to remove it from the flower for consumption, air contained in the appendage’s aerenchymatous tissue is pressed into the hollow anther. The resulting air flow causes the expulsion of a pollen jet and the deposition of pollen on the bird’s head and beak. Second, the stamen appendages provide a hexose-rich, highly nutritious (15,100 J/g) food body reward for the pollinating passerines. This discovery expands our knowledge of flowering plant pollination systems and provides the first report of highly specialized bellows organs for active pollen transfer in flowering plants. In addition, this is the only known case of a food body reward associated with reproductive structures in the eudicot clade of flowering plants.

Concepts: Bird, Pollination, Plant morphology, Flowering plant, Flower, Pollen, Plant sexuality, Stamen


Grasses are traditionally considered as wind pollinated, however, field observations confirmed frequent insect visits to grass flowers, suggesting insect pollination. Fruit and seed predators inflict heavy losses to cereals and millets during their growth, maturation and storage. The actual factors guiding insects and predators to grass flowers, fruits and seeds are not clear. Here, we report attractive blue fluorescence emissions on grass floral parts such as glumes, lemma, palea, lodicules, staminal filaments, pollens and fruits in ultraviolet (UV) 366 nm, whereas the stigmatic portions were not blue, but red fluorescent. We characterized the blue fluorescent constituent in grass reproductive structures as ferulic acid (FA). Fluorescence spectra of blue-emitting grass floral, seed extracts and isolated FA on excitation at 366 nm showed their emissions at 420-460 nm. We propose these FA-based blue fluorescence emissions in grass reproductive structures as visual cues that attract pollinators, predators and even pests towards them.

Concepts: Poaceae, Fruit, Pollination, Seed, Plant morphology, Flower, Pollen, Stamen


Stamen movements can be understood as a mechanism influencing pollen presentation and increasing outbreeding success of hermaphroditic flowers via optimized male function. In this study we experimentally analyzed the factors regulating autonomous and thigmonastic (triggered by flower visitors) stamen movements in eight species of Loasaceae. Both types of stamen movements are positively influenced by light and temperature and come to a virtual standstill in the dark and at low temperatures (12°C). Pollen presentation is thus discontinued during periods where pollinators are not active. Overall stamen presentation increases with increasing flower age. Contrary to expectation, no geometrical correlation between the floral scale stimulated and the stamen fascicle reacting exists, indicating that the stimulus is transmitted over the receptacle and stamen maturation dictates which and how many stamens react. Thigmonastic stamen presentation is dramatically accelerated compared to autonomous movement (3-37 times), indicating that the rate of stamen maturation can be adjusted to different visitation schedules. Flowers can react relatively uniformly down to stimulation intervals of 10-15 min., consistently presenting comparable numbers of stamens in the flower c. 5 min. after the stimulus and can thus keep the amount of pollen presented relatively constant even under very high visitation frequencies of 4-6 visits/h. Thigmonastic pollen presentation dramatically reduces the overall duration of the staminate phase (to 1/3(rd) in Nasa macrothyrsa). Similarly, the carpellate phase is dramatically reduced after pollination, down to 1 d from 4 d. Overall flower longevity is reduced by more than 2/3(rds) under high visitation rates (<3 d versus 10 d under visitor exclusion) and depleted and pollinated flowers are rapidly removed from the pool. Complex floral behaviour in Loasaceae thus permits a near-total control over pollen dispensation schedules and floral longevity of the individual flower by an extraordinary fine-tuning to both biotic and abiotic factors.

Concepts: Pollination, Plant morphology, Flower, Pollinator decline, Pollination syndrome, Pollen, Plant sexuality, Stamen


A new genus Kindia (Pavetteae, Rubiaceae) is described with a single species, Kindia gangan, based on collections made in 2016 during botanical exploration of Mt Gangan, Kindia, Republic of Guinea in West Africa. The Mt Gangan area is known for its many endemic species including the only native non-neotropical Bromeliaceae Pitcairnia feliciana. Kindia is the fourth endemic vascular plant genus to be described from Guinea. Based on chloroplast sequence data, the genus is part of Clade II of tribe Pavetteae. In this clade, it is sister to Leptactina sensu lato (including Coleactina and Dictyandra). K. gangan is distinguished from Leptactina s.l. by the combination of the following characters: its epilithic habit; several-flowered axillary inflorescences; distinct calyx tube as long as the lobes; a infundibular-campanulate corolla tube with narrow proximal section widening abruptly to the broad distal section; presence of a dense hair band near base of the corolla tube; anthers and style deeply included, reaching about mid-height of the corolla tube; anthers lacking connective appendages and with sub-basal insertion; pollen type 1; pollen presenter (style head) winged and glabrous (smooth and usually hairy in Leptactina); orange colleters producing a vivid red exudate, which encircle the hypanthium, and occur inside the calyx and stipules. Kindia is a subshrub that appears restricted to bare, vertical rock faces of sandstone. Fruit dispersal and pollination by bats is postulated. Here, it is assessed as Endangered EN D1 using the 2012 IUCN standard. High resolution LC-MS/MS analysis revealed over 40 triterpenoid compounds in the colleter exudate, including those assigned to the cycloartane class. Triterpenoids are of interest for their diverse chemical structures, varied biological activities, and potential therapeutic value.

Concepts: Species, Pollination, Plant morphology, Flowering plant, Flower, Pollen, Stamen, Guinea