Optimal pollen stickiness to pollinators for maximizing paternal fitness: Increased number of recipient flowers or increased pollen deposition on recipient flowers?

Takuya M. Hasegawa, Takashi T. Makino, Satoki Sakai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

A plant can sire more seeds by increasing the number of pollen recipient flowers or the amount of pollen deposited on recipient flowers. We theoretically analyzed how pollen stickiness contributes to paternal fitness through changing the pattern of pollen dispersal including both the number of recipient flowers and overall pollen deposition (the overall amount of pollen deposited on recipient flowers) in animal-pollinated plants. We developed a numerical model in which pollen stickiness to pollinators increases with production of expensive materials on pollen surfaces, and a high level of stickiness diminishes the proportions of pollen lost from a pollinator body during a flight and pollen deposited on a stigma during a visit. We found that the number of recipient flowers monotonically increased with increasing pollen stickiness allocation while overall pollen deposition was maximized at a certain amount of stickiness allocation. We demonstrated that evolutionarily stable pollen stickiness attained many recipient flowers at the expense of overall pollen deposition in most cases while it merely favored maximization of overall pollen deposition in all other cases. Sticky pollen evolved if pollinators were highly likely to drop pollen during flights and did not diffuse well. In this situation, the evolutionarily stable pattern of pollen dispersal was acquisition of many pollen recipient flowers rather than maximization of overall pollen deposition. Sticky pollen also evolved if additional sticking elements were moderately effective in increasing the force of adhesion to pollinators. Pollen stickiness has a significant effect on the pattern of pollen dispersal via the extent of pollen carryover, and our results suggest that plants maximize paternal fitness by giving pollen the optimal stickiness, which varies with pollinating partners.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110731
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Volume524
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Sep 7

Keywords

  • Animal pollination
  • Evolutionary stability
  • Pollen carryover
  • Pollen competition
  • Pollenkitt

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Applied Mathematics

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