, Volume 267, Issue 1-4, pp 105-119
Date: 01 Aug 2007

Reproductive isolation in the Aegean Ophrys omegaifera complex (Orchidaceae)

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Abstract

The orchid genus Ophrys operates a system of sexual deception by which high specificity of pollination is attained. Reproductive isolation in Ophrys mainly rests upon prezygotic isolation mechanisms. The level of genetic separateness of Ophrys taxa with different pollinators is therefore likely determined by the fidelity of pollinators. The present study employs genetic fingerprinting to investigate this in the east Aegean Ophrys omegaifera s.l. complex, also including O. dryis, a west Mediterranean species of this complex. Ophrys fleischmannii, O. basilissa, and the west Mediterranean O. dyris, are found to be well-separated genetic entities whereas O. omegaifera s.str. and the putative hybrid taxon, O. sitiaca, are found to be genetically inseparable across their entire range of co-occurrence. This suggests that specific pollinators have high enough fidelity to act as effective isolating factors in east Aegean O. omegaifera s.l. as a whole, but that the situation in the species pair of O. sitiaca and O. omegaifera is likely to be more complex.