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Sex allocation and functional bias of quaternary and quinary flowers on same inflorescence in the hermaphrodite Ruta graveolens

Tang, Jing-Yu, Ren, Ming-Xun
Acta oecologica 2011 v.37 no.5 pp. 449-454
viability, pollination, corolla, sex allocation, phenology, pollen, stigma, biomass, Ruta graveolens, seed set
Intra-inflorescence variation in floral traits is important to understand the pollination function of an inflorescence and the real reproductive outputs of a plant. Ruta graveolens (Rutaceae) produce both quaternary (four petals and eight stamens) and quinary (five petals and ten stamens) flowers on the same cymes, while their pollination roles and the effects on the reproductive success remained unexplored. We experimentally examined the biomass of female versus male organs and pollen viability and stigma receptivity to explore the sex allocation patterns between the flowers. The breeding systems and reproductive outputs through either female function (seed set) or male function (pollen dispersal) were also studied for quinary and quaternary flowers to determine whether there was functional bias. The results showed that R. graveolens was protandrous, with a mixed mating system. Its stamens could slowly move one by one and only dehisce when positioning at the flower center, which could greatly enhance pollen dispersal. The first-opened quinary flower allocated significantly higher resources (dry biomass) in female organs while quaternary flowers allocated more resource in male organs. The quaternary flowers experienced higher pollen limitation in seed production but were more successful in pollen dispersal and the quinary flowers reproduced both through female and male functions. Our data suggested that quinary and quaternary flower on same inflorescence in R. graveolens functioned mainly as the sex role that most resources were allocated, which probably reflect an adaptation for floral phenology and pollination process in this plant.