Authors: Gao, Jiang-Yun; Ren, Pan-Yu; Yang, Zi-Hui; Li, Qing-Jun
Publication: Annals of Botany
Year: 2006
Genera: Paraboea

• Background and Aims Gesneriaceae is a pantropical plant family with over 3000 species. A great variety of pollination mechanisms have been reported for the neotropical members of the family, but the details of buzz-pollination and enantiostyly for the family have not been described. We investigated the floral biology and pollination ecology of Paraboea rufescens in Xishuangbanna, south-west China, considering three aspects: (1) the type of enantiostyly exhibited; (2) whether the species is self-compatible; and (3) whether pollinator behaviour could enhance the precision of pollen transfer between flowers of contrasting stylar orientation.

• Methods Flowering phenology was monitored once a month during vegetative growth, and once a week during flowering both in the field and under cultivation. Pollination manipulations and pollinator observation in the field were conducted.

• Key Results Anthesis occurred early during the morning, and flowers remained open for 1–5 d, depending on weather conditions. Controlled pollinations revealed that P. rufescens is self-compatible, and exhibited inbreeding depression in seed set. Plants were pollinator limited in natural populations. The similar stylar deflection among flowers within a plant limits autonomous self-pollination as well as pollination between flowers. Two species of bumble bees (Bombus spp.), Amegila malaccensis and Nomia sp. effectively pollinated P. rufescens. These pollinators visited flowers in search of pollen with almost the same frequency. None of the pollinators appeared to discriminate between left- or right-handed flowers.

• Conclusions Paraboea rufescens exhibits monomorphic enantiostylous flowers and a buzz-pollination syndrome. Floral morphology in P. rufescens and pollinator foraging behaviour seems likely to reduce self-pollination and pollinations between flowers of the same stylar deflection.