04 August, 2021

Testing for apomixis in an obligate pollination mutualism

 by Jonathan T.D. Finch, Sally A. Power, Justin A. Welbergen and James M. Cook

A) The “coffee bush” Breynia oblongifolia
(Phyllanthaceae) in Richmond, NSW, Australia
B) female flowers C) male flowers with
enclosed stigmas and D) mature fruits.
Many Plants with a small number of specific pollinators may be vulnerable to fluctuations in the availability of those pollinators, which could result in pollination failure. Plants can develop mechanisms to mitigate the risk of pollination failure, such as apomixis. Apomixis is the clonal reproduction of plants through seeds without pollination or fertilisation.

We performed a flower-bagging experiment to test if the unisexual flowers of Breynia oblongifolia (Phyllanthaceae) could set fruit in the absence of its highly specialised seed-eating moth pollinators. Surprisingly, many bagged female flowers developed fruits, suggesting apomixis.

Read the whole summary in English.

Read the scientific publication in JPE.


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