Functional Diversity of Nectary Structure and Nectar Composition in the Genus Fritillaria (Liliaceae)

Katarzyna Roguz, Andrzej Bajguz, Agnieszka Golebiewska, Magdalena Chmur, Laurence Hill, Pawel Kalinowski, Jürg Schönenberger, Malgorzata Stpiczynska, Marcin Zych

Fritillaria is a genus consisting of 130 to 140 species of bulbous plants, native to temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. Generally viewed as an insect pollinated genus with the exception of two North American species, Fritillaria gentneri and F. recurva, which are described as hummingbird-pollinated and the Asian species, F. imperialis, described as passerine-pollinated. These pollinator shifts are possibly the result of adaptive changes to the structure and morphology of the nectary, as well as a change in the nectar concentration and composition. A study was conducted in a target group of 56 Fritillaria species, based on the morphology of their nectaries and nectar composition to assess the significance of pollination mode as well as its predisposition for the evolution of bird pollination. All species studied had nectaries located at their tepal base and produced nectar, but their size, shape, color, and composition all varied. Most fritillaries had hexose-rich nectar, in easily accessible and unprotected nectaries. Scanning electron microscope (SEM) analysis revealed that the surface of the nectaries of most Fritillaria species was flat and clearly distinct from that of the surrounding tissues, which might be regarded as an adaptation for insect-pollination. Nectaries of F. imperialis were considerably larger and had dilute nectar without sucrose, which was produced profusely, thereby fulfilling the criteria characteristic of ornithophilous flowers. The copious nectar of presumed hummingbird-pollinated species was rather balanced and of medium sugar concentration. Their large lanceolate nectaries contrasted sharply with the tessellated background of their tepals. These characters might indicate a mixed pollination system that engages both birds and insects. Floral anatomy and microstructure and nectar composition for Fritillaria species in subgenera Korolkowia and Liliorhiza are studied for the first time.

Department of Botany and Biodiversity Research
External organisation(s)
University of Warsaw, University of Białystok, Inst Technol & Life Sci, Institute of Technology & Life Sciences, Dept Nat Protect & Rural Landscape
Frontiers in Plant Science
No. of pages
Publication date
Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
106042 Systematic botany, 106008 Botany, 106012 Evolutionary research
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