, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 279-289

Pollen grain numbers, ovule numbers and pollen-ovule ratios in Caryophylloideae: correlation with breeding system, pollination, life form, style number, and sexual system

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Pollen-ovule ratios (P/O) were measured for 79 species of Caryophylloideae (Agrostemma, Dianthus, Saponaria, Silene, and Vaccaria). We analyzed if these features are best correlated with (1) the breeding system (outcrossing or selfing), (2) diurnal or nocturnal pollination, (3) life form (annual versus perennial), (4) style number, (5) the sexual system (hermaphroditism, gynodioecism, dioecism), or (6) the taxonomy of species. According to the classification of Cruden [(1977) Evolution 31:32–46] most species in the subfamily Caryophylloideae are facultative autogamous or facultative xenogamous. Autogamous or cleistogamous species showed significantly lower P/Os than outcrossing species. We found no differences between night- and day-flowering species; thus from our data diurnal and nocturnal flower visitors may be considered as equally efficient in transferring pollen. However, other factors are also important for the interpretation of P/Os. Pollen grain numbers and ovule numbers were found to correlate with style number, life form, and breeding system. The low P/Os of some dioecious, and therefore obligate outcrossing, species are discussed in relation to morphological traits that improve pollen deposition by pollinators on the stigma, and in relation to different flower numbers of male and female plants.

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