The function of the floral corona in the pollination of a Mediterranean style dimorphic daffodil

R. Pérez-Barrales, C. A. Abarca, R. Santos-Gally, F. P. Schiestl, J. Arroyo

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Narcissus papyraceus is a style dimorphic species with two floral forms, with anthers at similar height and stigmas above (long-styled L) and below (short-styled S) the anther level. The species is self-incompatible, but intra- and inter-morph compatible. Populations are either dimorphic (including both morphs) in the region of the Strait of Gibraltar, or L-monomorphic (with only L plants) in the inland of the Iberian Peninsula. This variation correlates with the most common floral visitors, being primarily long-tongued and short-tongued pollinators, respectively, a rare condition in Mediterranean plants. The maintenance of S-flowers relies on long-tongued insects, as only those deliver pollen to short-styled stigmas. Narcissus flowers present a long and narrow tube, at the bottom of which nectar accumulates, and a floral corona, which has been proposed as an important trait for the attraction of pollinators. Here we tested the importance of the corona on pollination of L and S flowers.

We described UV reflectance patterns of the corona and tepals, and characterised VOCs in intact flowers and flowers with trimmed coronas. We also conducted a field experiment in the dimorphic and monomorphic region to estimate the importance of corona removal on seed production in stands with solitary plants and in groups to control for compatible pollen limitation.

Reflectance was higher in the tepals than the corona, although both traits presented a reflectance peak around 450 nm wavelength. L- and S-flowers produced similar volatiles, regardless of the manipulation of the corona. Across dimorphic and monomorphic regions, S-flowers with the corona removed suffered a reduction in seed production of ca. 50%, while seed production remained similar in L flowers both with the corona intact and removed. Plants in solitary stands suffered a strong reduction in seed production, which was more pronounced in the monomorphic region.

Our results suggest that the corona in Narcissus is more important for the pollination of S-flowers, which generally have lower seed production compared to L-flowers. Taken together, these results suggest that the floral corona indirectly plays an important role for maintenance of the polymorphism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-127
JournalPlant Biology
Issue numberS1
Early online date8 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


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