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AID: 0000680420
Environmental control of reproductive phenology and the effect of pollen supplementation on resource allocation in the cleistogamous weed, Ruellia nudiflora (Acanthaceae)
Annals of Botany, . V. 109. No. 2. P. 343350 (8).
Background and Aims Mixed reproductive strategies may have evolved as a response of plants to cope with environmental variation. One example of a mixed reproductive strategy is dimorphic cleistogamy, where a single plant produces closed, obligately self-pollinated (CL) flowers and open, potentially outcrossed (CH) flowers. Frequently, optimal environmental conditions favour production of more costly CH structures whilst economical and reliable CL structures are produced under less favourable conditions. In this study we explore (1) the effect of light and water on the reproductive phenology and (2) the effect of pollen supplementation on resource allocation to seeds in the cleistogamous weed Ruellia nudiflora.• Methods Split-plot field experiments were carried out to assess the effect of shade (two levels: ambient light vs. a reduction of 50 %) and watering (two levels: non-watered vs. watered) on the onset, end and duration of the production of three reproductive structures: CH flowers, CH fruit and CL fruit. We also looked at the effect of these environmental factors on biomass allocation to seeds (seed weight) from obligately self-pollinated flowers (CL), open-pollinated CH flowers and pollen-supplemented CH flowers. Key Results CH structures were produced for a briefer period and ended earlier under shaded conditions. These conditions also resulted in an earlier production of CL fruit. Shaded conditions also produced greater biomass allocation to CH seeds receiving extra pollen. Conclusions Sub-optimal (shaded) conditions resulted in a briefer production period of CH structures whilst these same conditions resulted in an earlier production of CL structures. However, under sub-optimal conditions, plants also allocated more resources to seeds sired from CH flowers receiving large pollen loads. Earlier production of reproductive structures and relatively larger seed might improve subsequent success of CL and pollen-supplemented CH seeds, respectively.

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