J Syst Evol ›› 2014, Vol. 52 ›› Issue (4): 411-422.DOI: 10.1111/jse.12062

• Reviews • Previous Articles     Next Articles

A review of orchid pollination studies in China

1Guang-Da TANG 1Jing-Hui OU 2Yi-Bo LUO 1Xue-Ying ZHUANG* 1,3,4Zhong-Jian LIU*   

  1. 1(College of Forestry, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou 510642, China)
    2(State Key Laboratory of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093, China)
    3(Shenzhen Key Laboratory for Orchid Conservation and Utilization, The National Orchid Conservation Center of China and The Orchid Conservation and Research Center of Shenzhen, Shenzhen 518114, China)
    4(The Center for Biotechnology and BioMedicine, Graduate School at Shenzhen, Tsinghua University, Shenzhen 518055, China)
  • Received:2013-06-20 Published:2014-07-10

Abstract: Orchid pollination and evolution are common topics in evolutionary biology. China has approximately 1400 orchid species distributed in diverse habitats and account for approximately 5% of the orchid species in the world. These orchids provide us with materials to explore coevolution and organic evolution. We summarized 53 Chinese orchid pollination studies and synthesized their main findings and common patterns. Bees and flies are the main pollinators of Chinese orchids and drive the diversification of Paphiopedilum and Cypripedium. In addition, the patterns are consistent with phylogenetic evolution studies. Almost half of the Chinese orchids use a common food-deceptive pollination strategy to transfer their pollens. Other orchids use Batesian mimicry, brood-site imitation, and green-leaf volatile imitation, which is rare. Holcoglossum amesianum (Rchb. f.) Christenson and Paphiopedilum parishii (Rchb. f.) Stein, which live in insect-scarce habitats, use self-pollination strategies to ensure their reproductive success. However, studies on pollination are in the early stages and comprehensive studies are scarce. Therefore, future studies should involve additional disciplines and techniques, such as chemecologic, electrophysiologic, genomic, transcriptomic, and proteomic methods, to evaluate the floral features that attract specific pollinators and to elucidate the patterns of Chinese orchid pollination, evolutionary history, diversification, and speciation between orchids and their pollinators.

Key words: China, diversification, orchid, pollination.