Reversible colour change in leaves enhances pollinator attraction and reproductive success in Saururus chinensis (Saururaceae)

Song, Bo and Stöcklin, Jürg and Armbruster, W. Scott and Gao, Yongqian and Peng, Deli and Sun, Hang. (2018) Reversible colour change in leaves enhances pollinator attraction and reproductive success in Saururus chinensis (Saururaceae). Annals of botany, 121 (4). pp. 641-650.

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Although there has been much experimental work on leaf colour change associated with selection generated by abiotic environmental factors and antagonists, the role of leaf colour change in pollinator attraction has been largely ignored. We tested whether whitening of the apical leaves subtending the inflorescences of Saururus chinensis during flowering enhances pollinator attraction, and whether re-greening of the white leaves after flowering increases carbon assimilation and promotes seed development. White leaves were removed or covered, and the effects of these manipulations on pollinator visitation and subsequent reproductive success were assessed. The net photosynthetic rates of leaves of different colour were measured and their photosynthetic contributions to seed development were evaluated. Saururus chinensis is able to self-pollinate autonomously, but depends largely on flies for pollination. White leaves had different reflectance spectra from green leaves, and white leaves attracted significantly more pollinators and led to significantly higher fruit and seed set. Although leaf whitening resulted in a reduction in photosynthetic capacity, it translated into only a small decrease in seed mass. When leaves had turned back from white to green after flowering their photosynthetic capacity was similar to that of ‘normal’ green leaves and promoted seed development. The reversible leaf colour change in S. chinensis appears to be adaptive because it enhances pollination success during flowering, with a small photosynthetic cost, while re-greening of these leaves after flowering helps to meet the carbon requirements for seed development.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Ehemalige Einheiten Umweltwissenschaften > Population Biology (Stöcklin)
UniBasel Contributors:Stöcklin, Jürg
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:31 Jul 2020 15:55
Deposited On:31 Jul 2020 15:55

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