Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2015, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (1): 1-13.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2015.0001

• Orginal Article •     Next Articles

Pollination ecology of alpine herb Meconopsis integrifolia at different altitudes

WU Yun1,3, LIU Yu-Rong1,3, PENG Han1, YANG Yong2,3, LIU Guang-Li1,*(), CAO Guo-Xing4, ZHANG Qiang1,3   

  1. 1College of Landscape Architecture, Sichuan Agricultural University, Chengdu 611130, China
    2Maize Research Institute, Sichuan Agricultural University, Chengdu 611130, China
    3Graduate College of Sichuan Agricultural University, Chengdu 611130, China
    and 4College of Forestry, Sichuan Agricultural University, Ya’an, Sichuan 625014, China
  • Received:2014-08-11 Accepted:2014-12-09 Online:2015-01-01 Published:2015-01-22
  • Contact: Guang-Li LIU
  • About author:# Co-first authors

Abstract: Aims

We studied the breeding system and pollination ecology of Meconopsis integrifolia (Papaveraceae), which is an alpine herb, for two consecutive years.


Five plots (plot 1, 4452 m a.s.l; plot 2, 4215 m a.s.l; plot 3, 4081 m a.s.l; plot 4, 3841 m a.s.l; plot 5, 3681 m a.s.l) were established along an altitudinal gradient in the Balang Mountain. Flower longevity, stigma height and the highest stamen were measured and recorded. The stigma receptivity and pollen viability were tested by the Benzidine-H2O2 method and the TTC method, respectively. The breeding system was tested by experimental approaches, and flower visitors were observed over the life span of the flower. The temperatures of the flower and environment were also recorded. Important findings Flower longevity was greater in plots 1 and 2 than in plots 3, 4 and 5. The stigmas were higher than the anthers at the beginning of anthesis, and the distance between stigmas and the anthers then gradually decreased with the progress of flowing. The stigmas and anthers came into contact when the corolla wilted in 65% of the flowers sampled, indicating an incomplete herkogamy. The stigmas became receptive before the dehiscence of anthers (protogyny). Under natural conditions, stigma receptivity lasted for 8 d and pollen viability lasted for 2 d. Hand-pollination experiments indicated that M. integrifolia was self-compatible and did not exhibit apomixis. Seed set was significantly increased after a supplemental hand-pollination, suggesting the pollen-limitation of reproduction. The pollinators in plots 1 and 2 were flies, and in plots 3, 4 and 5 flies and Thripidae spp. We observed that flies moved and transferred pollen between plants, and that both flies and Thripidae spp. moved within flowers, the latter resulted in “facilitated selfing”. About 65% of the plants sampled set seed by autonomous self-pollination. There was a significant difference in the visiting frequency of flies between plots, with plot 1 being the lowest and plot 2 the highest. Pollen limitations were evident across all plots due to lack of sufficient outcrossing pollinators. Two different selfing mechanisms, unexplored here, may provide a partial compensation for the natural reproduction of this alpine species in the arid, alpine habitats. M. integrifolia could attract pollinators by providing a warm shelter.

Key words: dichogamy, “greenhouse plant”, herkogamy, Meconopsis integrifolia, pollen limitation, reproductive assurance, reproductive strategy