Plant Systematics and Evolution

, Volume 305, Issue 2, pp 115–126 | Cite as

Comparative pollen–pistil interactions and insect pollination in two Hypoxis species (Hypoxidaceae) in China and North America

  • Zong-Xin RenEmail author
  • Peter Bernhardt
  • Retha Edens-Meier
  • Justin Zweck
  • Mike Arduser
  • Hai-Dong Li
  • Hong WangEmail author
Original Article


We compared the floral ecology and pollen–pistil interactions in Hypoxis hirsuta (L.) Coville from North America and Hypoxis aurea Loureiro from China. Both species are vernal-flowering herbs, with yellow perianths, providing pollen as their only reward. In H. hirsuta, hand self-pollinated, emasculated and bagged control flowers failed to set fruit. When cross-pollinated, 77% of the pistils produced seed-filled capsules while 72% of open, insect-pollinated flowers set seed. Epifluorescence showed that most germinating grains failed to penetrate the stigmatic surface > 24 h after hand self-pollination suggesting early-acting self-incompatibility (SI). The majority of pollinators of H. hirsuta were female bees representing 21 species distributed in four families. Pollen load analyses indicated that most bees were polylectic and carried grains of H. hirsuta mixed with pollen of co-blooming, nectariferous species. In contrast, capsule production of H. aurea was 60% for open, insect-pollinated flowers. Pollen tubes of H. aurea also entered ovules within 24 h, and SI of this species was partial. Evidence of a late-acting rejection in this species following self-pollination included abnormal growth of pollen tubes in styles with fewer tubes penetrating ovules. In contrast, abnormal tube growth was not observed in styles of H. hirsuta. Hypoxis aurea received fewer insect visitations. Pollen was dispersed primarily by hoverflies (Syrphidae) followed by bees. Floral presentation, generalist pollination and two modes of SI found in these two Hypoxis species contribute to our understanding of floral evolution for congeners isolated on different continents.


Bees Hoverflies Hypoxidaceae Hypoxis Self-incompatibility 



We thank Dr. Peter E. Gibbs of the University of St Andrews, UK, for comments and discussions on self-incompatibility; Dr. Huan-Li Xu of China Agricultural University for identification of bee specimens collected on H. aurea and Dr. Kui-Yan Zhang of Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences for identification of hoverflies (Syrphidae). We also thank Ms. Dowen Jocson of St. Louis University for insects measurement. We thank four anonymous reviewers for their detailed comments for improving this manuscript. Dr. Zong-Xin Ren’s work at St. Louis University was funded by Chinese Academy of Sciences. Work of H. aurea was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 31300199) and the Youth Innovation Promotion Association, Chinese Academy of Sciences (2014355).

Compliance with ethical standards statement

Conflict of interest

We declare that there is no conflict of interest relative to the paper.

Human and animal rights

This work involved no human participants as subjects. Animal collection was restricted to a minimum and complied with laws.

Ethical statement

All authors consent with the paper and are aware of its content and organization. As the corresponding author, I am prepared to provide further documents of compliance with ethical standards upon request along the editorial process.

Supplementary material

606_2018_1556_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (42 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 41 kb)
606_2018_1556_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (51 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 50 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory for Plant Diversity and Biogeography of East AsiaKunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of SciencesKunmingChina
  2. 2.Department of BiologySt. Louis UniversitySt. LouisUSA
  3. 3.School of EducationSt. Louis UniversitySt. LouisUSA
  4. 4.Department of BiologyUniversity of Minnesota DuluthDuluthUSA
  5. 5.Missouri Department of ConservationSt. CharlesUSA

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