Doing the twist: A test of Darwin's cross-pollination hypothesis for pollinarium reconfiguration

Peter, C.I. and Johnson, S.D. (2006) Doing the twist: A test of Darwin's cross-pollination hypothesis for pollinarium reconfiguration. Biology Letters, 2 (1). pp. 65-68. ISSN 1744-9561

Doing_the_twist.pdf - Published Version


Official URL:


Mating success in plants depends largely on the efficiency of pollen dispersal. For hermaphrodite plants, self-pollination, either within or among flowers, can reduce mating opportunities because of pollen and ovule discounting and inbreeding depression. Self-pollination may be particularly detrimental in plants such as orchids and asclepiads that package each flower’s pollen into one or more pollinia which, together with accessory structures, comprise a pollinarium. Darwin proposed that physical reconfiguration of pollinaria serves as a mechanism for reducing the likelihood of self-pollination. To be effective, the time taken for pollinarium reconfiguration would need to exceed that spent by a pollinator on a plant. We investigated pollinarium reconfiguration (including pollinarium bending, pollinium shrinking and anther cap retention) in 19 species and found a strong positive relationship between reconfiguration time and the duration of pollinator visits. Reconfiguration times were also consistently longer than pollinator visit times. These results provide strong support for Darwin’s idea that this mechanism promotes cross-pollination.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Out-crossing; Pollination; Pollinia; Self-pollination; cross pollination; hermaphroditism; mating system; Orchidaceae; pollen; selfing; Inbreeding
Subjects:Q Science > Q Science (General)
Q Science > QK Botany
Q Science > QH Natural history
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Science > Botany
ID Code:1720
Deposited On:28 May 2010 10:42
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:21
92 full-text download(s) since 28 May 2010 10:42
42 full-text download(s) in the past 12 months
More statistics...

Repository Staff Only: item control page