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Abstract Detail

Pollination Biology

Buddin, Carl [1], Penneys, Darin S. [1].

Plant-animal interactions: repeated evolutionary acquisitions of complex character suites in a tropical flowering plant family (Melastomataceae).

Plant-animal interactions and coevolution have been driving factors in speciation and adaptive radiations since the Jurassic. Such mutualistic relationships influence animal behavior, plant morphology, and ecological networks at small and large scales. Within the Melastomataceae, a predominantly tropical and subtropical family of flowering plants (and with over 5000 species, the seventh most speciose), plant-animal interactions are diverse. The vast majority of the species are pollinated by bees using an uncommon method of buzzing the anthers to extract pollen through apical pores. Buzz pollination occurs in only about 8% of flowering plants, but 97% of melastomes. Adaptive pollinator shifts have occurred in the remaining species and include hummingbirds, passerines, bats, and rodents. Floral rewards, morphology, and animal attraction strategies are complex and quite divergent from the typical condition in this family. Pollinator shifts are linked to high elevation habitats (e.g., the Andes) where cold-blooded animals, such as bees, are less active. Furthermore, some Melastomataceae produce protective structures on stems and leaves, domatia, that are inhabited by ants or mites that benefit the host plant by providing nitrogen, deterring herbivores, and cleaning photosynthetic surfaces. In this investigation, seven molecular markers (nrITS, nrETS, plastid accD-psaI, ndhF, psbK-psbL, rbcL, and rpl16) were sequenced from 272 species representing 140 genera of Melastomataceae. A Maximum Likelihood phylogenetic analysis was conducted and the evolution of various plant-animal interactions mapped onto the resulting cladogram. The results indicate that vertebrate pollination has arisen independently in several tribes, predominantly in the Neotropics; associations with ants and mites follow a similar pattern.

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1 - University of North Carolina Wilmington, Biology and Marine Biology, 601 S. College Rd., Wilmington, NC, 28403, USA

plant-pollinator interactions
character evolution

Presentation Type: Poster:Posters for Topics
Session: P
Location: Hall D/The Shaw Conference Centre
Date: Monday, July 27th, 2015
Time: 5:30 PM
Number: PPL002
Abstract ID:1221
Candidate for Awards:None

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