Hummingbirds act as vectors of Fusarium moniliforme spores on protandrous flowers of Moussonia deppeana. The resulting interactions between the pathogen and plant-pollinator interactions were investigated in a 4-yr study to determine the pathogen’s impact on host flowering phenology, flower longevity, nectar production, and fruit and seed production. We also evaluated hummingbird behavior on healthy and diseased plants and its effectiveness on spore transmission. Individual plants expressed the disease from year to year, and new infected individuals were detected every year. A fraction of the flowers in a plant expressed the disease, and this varied among and within years. Diseased plants produced more inflorescences, buds, and open healthy flowers than did healthy plants. Further, diseased plants bore proportionally fewer pistillate flowers than did healthy plants when considering only healthy flowers. Neither nectar nor fruit production differed between healthy and diseased plants, but healthy plants produced more seeds. Infected flowers were retained longer than uninfected ones, producing an additional 2 mg · μL(-1) · flower(-1) of nectar sugar. Hummingbirds visited more flowers on diseased plants than they did on healthy plants, regardless of number and sexual phase. Most pollen and spores were deposited within plants. These behavioral outcomes may promote geitonogamy and limit fungal spore mixing.
Hummingbirds as vectors of fungal spores in Moussonia deppeana (Gesneriaceae): taking advantage of a mutualism?
Publication: American Journal of Botany