Flower colour divergence is associated with post-fire regeneration dimorphism in the fynbos heath Erica coccinea subsp. coccinea (Ericaceae)
The South African Cape fynbos heath Erica coccinea subsp. coccinea is polymorphic for post-fire regeneration mode (seeder/resprouter), flower colour (red/yellow), flowering time (summer-autumn/winter-spring), as well as anther size. These polymorphisms tend to occur between, rather than within, populations. Here, we aimed to understand flower colour divergence in this fynbos heath species and its association with post-fire regeneration. We tested for an association between these polymorphisms. We also examined whether yellow-flowered plants lacked anthocyanins and whether the lack of anthocyanins affected the concentration of other flavonoids, both in flowers and shoots. We found a strong association between flower colour, regeneration mode and flowering phenology. We also detected larger anthers and larger pollen in yellow- than in red-flowered plants, consistently for both resprouter and seeder regeneration strategies. Finally, we ascertained that being yellow-flowered is associated with loss in the capacity of synthesizing anthocyanins in both the flower and in the vegetative tissue. Considering that pollinator availability or preferences do probably not constitute a selection pressure, we propose that both enhanced reproductive success of anthocyaninless, yellow-flowered plants and the avoidance of likely negative pleiotropic effects (early senescence) in seeders would be key to understanding the flower colour divergence in E. coccinea subsp. coccinea.
KeywordsAnthocyanins Flavonols Flower colour polymorphism Increased male function Negative pleiotropic effects Resprouter Seeder
Cape Nature and SANPARKS issued the necessary permits for fieldwork. F.O. strongly thanks the Spanish Ministerio de Educación (travel Grant PR2010-0365) and the UCA Plan Propio de Investigación (University of Cádiz; EST2016022) for providing travelling bursaries to do fieldwork.
F.O. planned and designed the research, conducted fieldwork and analysed data. R.C.S. carried out and wrote the Methods for pollen measurements. A.L., D.H. and R.J.-T. performed flavonoid analyses and contributed to write the “Methods” section. J.G.S.-M. performed the genetic analyses. F.O. wrote the manuscript and J.M., A.P. and J.G.S.-M. contributed to the discussion.
This study was conducted with funds from the Spanish Ministerio de Educación (travel Grant PR2010-0365) and the UCA Plan Propio de Investigación (University of Cádiz; EST2016022).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declared that they have no conflict of interest.
- Bates D, Maechler M, Bolker B (2013) Lme4: linear mixed-effects models using S4 classes. R package version 0.999999-2. http://CRAN.R-project.org/package=lme4. Accessed Aug–Sep 2016
- Crawley MJ (2013) The R book, 2nd edn. Wiley, ChichesterGoogle Scholar
- Falcone-Ferreyra ML, Rius S, Casati P (2012) Flavonoids: biosynthesis, biological functions, and biotechnological applications. Front Plant Sci 3:222Google Scholar
- Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ, Ryan PG (2005) Roberts birds of Southern Africa, 7th edn. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape TownGoogle Scholar
- Kikuzawa K, Lechowicz MJ (2018) Leaf Photosynthesis Integrated over Time. In: Adams W III, Terashima I (eds) The leaf: a platform for performing photosynthesis. Advances in photosynthesis and respiration (including bioenergy and related processes), vol 44. Springer, Cham, pp 473–492CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Langella O (2000) Populations (Logiciel de genétique des populations). CNRS, ParisGoogle Scholar
- Malan M (2013) Intraspecific variation in Erica coccinea. M.Sc. thesis, University of Cape Town, Cape TownGoogle Scholar
- Oliver EGH, Oliver IM (2002) The genus Erica (Ericaceae) in southern Africa: taxonomic notes 1. Bothalia 32:37–61Google Scholar
- Onkokesung N, Reichelt M, van Doorn A, Schuurink RC, van Loon JJA, Dicke M (2014) Modulation of flavonoid metabolites in Arabidopsis thaliana through overexpression of the MYB75 transcription factor: role of kaempferol-3,7-dirhamnoside in resistance to the specialist insect herbivore Pieris brassicae. J Exp Bot 65:2203–2217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Pinheiro J, Bates D, DebRoy S, Sarkar D, the R Development Core Team (2011) Nlme: linear and nonlinear mixed effects models. R package version 3.1-98Google Scholar
- Pritchard JK, Stephens M, Donnelly PJ (2000) Inference of population structure using multilocus genotype data. Genetics 155:945–959Google Scholar
- R Development Core Team (2013) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical ComputingGoogle Scholar
- Shirley BW (1996) Flavonoid biosynthesis: ‘new’ functions for an ‘old’ pathway. Trends Plant Sci 1:377–382Google Scholar
- Strauss SY, Whittall JB (2006) Non-pollinator agents of selection on floral traits. In: Harder LD, Barrett SCH (eds) Ecology and evolution of flowers. Oxford University, Oxford, pp 120–138Google Scholar
- van Wilgen BW (1987) Fire regimes in the fynbos biome. In: Cowling RM, Le Maitre DC, McKenzie B, Prys-Jones RP, van Wilgen BW (eds) Disturbance and the dynamics of fynbos biome communities. South African national scientific programmes report 135. Foundation for Research Development, Pretoria, pp 6–14Google Scholar
- Zhu M, Zheng X, Shu Q, Li H, Zhong P, Zhang H, Xu Y, Wang L, Wang L (2012) Relationship between the composition of flavonoids and flower colors variation in tropical Water Lily (Nymphaea) Cultivars. PLoS ONE 7:e3433Google Scholar