Chin J Plan Ecolo ›› 2015, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (7): 753-761.doi: 10.17521/cjpe.2015.0072

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Floral morphology and pollination mechanism of Salvia liguliloba, a narrow endemic species with degraded lever-like stamens

HUANG Yan-Bo1, WEI Yu-Kun1,*(), WANG Qi1, XIAO Yue-E1, YE Xi-Yang2   

  1. 1Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden, Shanghai Chenshan Plant Science Research Center, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai 201602, China
    2Zhejiang A&F University, Hangzhou 311300, China
  • Online:2015-07-22 Published:2015-07-01
  • Contact: Yu-Kun WEI E-mail:ykwei@sibs.ac.cn
  • About author:

    # Co-first authors

Abstract: Aims Diverse stamen structures and interactions with pollinators make Salvia the model plants for studying evolutionary changes in plant pollination mechanisms. The dorsal pollination mechanism of lever-like stamens has been extensively investigated as a classic example for precise interactions between plants of Salvia genus and their pollinators. However, there are many atypical lever-like structures and pollination mechanisms among Salvia species. For example, Salvia liguliloba has floral organ structures and a pollination mechanism characterized by degenerated lever-like stamens. The aim of this work was to understand the selection pressure and ecological significance of Salvia plants that have the atypical staminal level mechanism. Methods In this study, we described the morphological features of S. liguliloba, a plant species endemic to the Tianmu Mountains, and investigated its pollination ecology in detail. Various components of the flower of S. liguliloba were measured, which included the corolla, corolla tube, corolla entrance, filament, connective and pistil. Flower-visiting insects, pollinators, and the pollination process were observed and recorded by a digital video camera. Furthermore, we focused on comparing the floral organ structures and the pollination characteristics of S. liguliloba with those of S. digitaloides, which has a short-lever stamen. The relative frequency of insects, visiting time per flower, activity rate and visitation rate were measured and compared with the data from our previous study of S. digitaloides, for which the flower structure and pollination features were well concluded. Important findings Salvia liguliloba has smaller corolla length, tube width, and shorter filament and pistil than S. digitaloides (p < 0.05). The only effective pollinator was Bombus trifasciatus, and its average relative visiting frequency and the visiting time per flower were (0.959 ± 0.065) and (1.54 ± 0.60) s. The degenerated lower arm and limited moving space in the upper arm of the stamen restrict the pollinating insects from pushing the stamens in a lever-like motion. Thus, bumblebees completed pollination with the aid of their heads. Compared with the structure of the lever-like stamen and the pollination mechanism of S. digitaloides, the structural features of the floral organs of S. liguliloba make it adapt to a more specific pollinator with shorter visiting time and higher activity rate. The results suggested that the species with degraded lever-like stamens might be different from other typical Salvia species in their evolution direction and reproductive strategy.

Key words: adaptive evolution, forehead pollination, short-lever stamen, Salvia liguliloba, Bombus trifasciatus

Fig. 1

Photographic images of Salvia liguliloba and its visiting insects. A, Habitat. B, Plant. C, Lateral view of flower. D, Longitudinal section of flower. E, Pistil. F, Front view of flower. G, Stamens. H, Fruits. I, Bombus trifasciatus (pollinator). J, Ventral visiting by a species of Halictidae. K, Dorsal visiting by a species of Halictidae. L, A visitor of Sphingidae species. Bar = 2 mm."

Fig. 2

Diagram of Salvia liguliloba flower measurement. A, Corolla length. B, Corolla width. C, Corolla height. D, Tube length. E, Entrance height. F, Entrance width. G, Filament length. H, Connective length. I, Pistil length. Bar = 2 mm."

Fig. 3

Comparisons of morphometric data between Salvia liguliloba (A to D) and S. digitaloides (E to H). A, E, Lateral view of a flower. B, F, Longitudinal section of a flower. C, G, Front view of a flower. D, H, Stamens. Bar = 5 mm."

Table 1

Comparison between Salvia liguliloba and S. digitaloides on flower features (mean ± SD) (mm)"

花冠长
Corolla
Length
花冠宽
Corolla
width
花冠高
Corolla
height
冠筒长
Tube
Length
冠口高
Entrance height
冠口宽
Entrance
width
花丝长
Filament length
药隔长
Connective length
雌蕊长
Pistil
Length
舌瓣鼠尾草
S. liguliloba
23.67 ± 0.74b 5.31 ± 0.34b 7.30 ± 0.67b 19.49 ± 0.8b 4.87 ± 0.61a 4.41 ± 0.52b 2.39 ± 0.14b 5.19 ± 0.33a 23.74 ± 0.43b
毛地黄鼠尾草
S. digitaloides
39.80 ± 2.60a 12.52 ± 1.49a 22.98 ± 2.62a 28.99 ± 2.01a 4.33 ± 0.68b 6.80 ± 0.72a 7.33 ± 0.46a 5.10 ± 0.43a 34.89 ± 2.30a

Table 2

Morphometric data of visiting insects from Salvia liguliloba in the study (mean ± SD) (mm)"

访花昆虫
Visiting insect
体长
Body length
胸宽
Thorax width
胸厚
Thorax thickness
喙长
Tongue length
三条熊蜂 Bombus trifasciatus (n = 10) 21.8 ± 1.29 7.35 ± 0.41 5.10 ± 0.24 11.0 ± 1.32
隧蜂科昆虫 Halictidae (n = 1) 6.88 1.91 1.66 0.73

Fig. 4

The pollination process of Bombus trifasciatus, an effective pollinator of Salvia liguliloba. A, Approaching to the corolla. B, Accessing to flower tube and the pollinator’s tongue is extending. C, B. trifasciatus is sucking nectar and its forehead touching the fertile anther. Bar = 2 mm."

Fig. 5

The daily dynamic of flower-visiting times for Salvia liguliloba by Bombus trifasciatus."

Table 3

Flower-visiting traits of pollinators from Salvia liguliloba and S. digitaloides (mean ± SD)"

访花昆虫
Visiting insects
相对频次
Relative frequency
单花访问时间
Visiting time per flower (s)
活跃度
Activity rate
访花频率
Visitation rate
传粉方式
Pollination mode
舌瓣鼠尾草传粉昆虫
Pollinator of S. liguliloba
三条熊蜂
Bombus trifasciatus
0.959 ± 0.065
(n = 7)
1.54 ± 0.60
(n = 1 035)
18.2 ± 3.12
(n = 10)
17.45 F
毛地黄鼠尾草传粉昆虫
Pollinators of S. digitaloides
拟熊蜂属昆虫
Psithyrus sp.
0.57 8.68 ± 0.90 - 3.94 D
小雅熊蜂 B. lepidus 0.20 15.57 ± 1.20 - 0.77 D/V
B. infrequens < 0.20 - - - D
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