J Syst Evol ›› 2009, Vol. 47 ›› Issue (1): 43-56.DOI: 10.1111/j.1759-6831.2009.00002.x

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Intrafloral differentiation of stamens in heterantherous flowers

Zhong-Lai LUO 1,2 Lei GU 1,2 Dian-Xiang ZHANG*1   

  1. 1 ( South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510650, China )
    2 ( Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China ) *Author for correspondence: E-mail: dx-zhang@scbg.ac.cn; Tel. & Fax: 86-20-37252543.
  • Received:2008-02-18 Published:2009-02-27

Abstract: Flowers that have heteromorphic stamens (heterantherous flowers) have intrigued many researchers ever since the phenomenon was discovered in the 19th century. The morphological differentiation in androecia has been suggested as a reflection of "labor division" in pollination in which one type of stamens attracts pollinators and satisfies their demand for pollen as food and the other satisfies the plant's need for safe gamete dispersal. The extent and patterns of stamen differentiation differ notably among taxa with heterantherous flowers. Seven species with heteromorphic stamens in three genera were sampled from Leguminosae and Melastomataceae, and the morphological difference of androecia, pollen content, pollen histochemistry and viability, pollen micro-morphology, as well as the main pollinators were examined and compared. Pollen number differs significantly between stamen sets of the same flower in most species investigated, and a correlation of pollen number and anther size was substantiated. Higher pollen viabilities were found in the long (pollinating) stamens of Senna alata (L.) Roxb. and S. bicapsularis (L.) Roxb. Dimorphic pollen exine ornamentation is reported here for the first time in Fordiophyton faberi Stapf. The height of stigma and anther tips of the long stamens in natural conditions was proved to be highly correlated, supporting the hypothesis that they contact similar areas of the pollinator's body.

Key words: buzz pollination, heteranthery, labor division, pollen micro-morphology, pollen number, pollination, stamen differentiation