Salvage of floral resources through re-absorption before flower abscission

Graham H. Pyke*, Zong-Xin Ren, Judith Trunschke, Klaus Lunau, Hong Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Plants invest floral resources, including nectar and pigment, with likely consequent reproductive costs. We hypothesized that plants, whose flowers abscise with age, reabsorb nectar and pigment before abscission. This was tested with flowers of Rhododendron decorum, which has large, conspicuous white flowers that increasingly abscise corollas as flowers age. As this species is pollinated by bees, we also hypothesized that nectar concentration would be relatively high (i.e., > 30% wt/vol) and petals would contain UV-absorbing pigment. Floral nectar volume and concentration were sampled on successive days until abscission (up to ten days old, peak at five days) and for sub-sample of four-day-old flowers. Flowers just abscised were similarly sampled. Flower colours were measured using a modified camera, with recordings of spectral reflectance for abscised and open non-abscised flowers. Pigment content was summed values of red, green, blue channels of false color photos. As expected, flowers reabsorbed almost all nectar before abscission, separately reabsorbing nectar-sugar and nectar-water, and petals contained UV-absorbing pigment. However, flowers did not reabsorb pigment and nectar-concentration was < 30% wt/vol. That flowers reabsorb nectar, not pigment, remains unexplained, though possibly pigment reabsorption is uneconomical. Understanding floral resource reabsorption therefore requires determination of biochemical mechanisms, plus costs/benefits for individual plants.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15960
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalScientific Reports
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sep 2020

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

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