Journal of Plant Research

, Volume 129, Issue 3, pp 477–485 | Cite as

Reproductive biology of an Alpic paleo-endemic in a changing climate

  • Maria Guerrina
  • Gabriele Casazza
  • Elena Conti
  • Carmelo Macrì
  • Luigi MinutoEmail author
Regular Paper


Climate change is known to have a profound influence on plant reproduction, mainly because it affects plant/pollinator interactions, sometimes driving plants to extinction. Starting from the Neogene, the European climate was subjected to severe alterations. Nevertheless, several genera, including Berardia, survived these climatic changes. Despite the numerous studies performed about the relationship between climate change and plant reproductive biology, equivalent studies on ancient species are lacking, even though they may furnish crucial information on the strategies that allowed them to survive drastic climatic fluctuations. We investigated floral and reproductive features in Berardia subacaulis (Asteraceae), describing pollen vectors, capitulum and florets phenology, evaluating reproductive efficiency and defining the reproductive mode of the plant with bagging experiments and test of apomixis. B. subacaulis grows in habitats with low pollination services; it is self-compatible, but many typical features favouring cross-pollination are still present: florets are characterized by incomplete protandry, capitulum protogyny and high pollen–ovule ratio. The plant is not apomictic and self-fertilization is allowed within each capitulum. Similarly to other European Alpine endemics supposed to belong to the Mediterranean ancient tropical flora, the reproductive mode observed in the monospecific genus Berardia assured reproduction also under a pollinator decline. Differently from the other endemics, it took advantage of its spontaneous self-pollination and compatibility and its generalist pollination service, common both among high altitude plants and in the Asteraceae.


Berardia subacaulis Vill. Asteraceae Paleo-endemic plant species Pollen vectors Reproductive strategy 



We are grateful to L. Galli (DISTAV, University of Genoa) for insect identification. Special thanks to J. Suda (Department of Botany, Charles University of Prague) for performing the flow cytometric screen of seeds employed to test for apomixis. This work was supported by a grant from Parco Naturale delle Alpi Marittime and BIODIVAM Project J72D13000070007 within ALCOTRA European Programme.

Supplementary material

10265_2016_796_MOESM1_ESM.doc (49 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 49 kb)


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Copyright information

© The Botanical Society of Japan and Springer Japan 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Guerrina
    • 1
  • Gabriele Casazza
    • 1
  • Elena Conti
    • 2
  • Carmelo Macrì
    • 1
  • Luigi Minuto
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.DISTAV, Polo Botanico HanburyUniversità degli Studi di GenovaGenoaItaly
  2. 2.Institute of Systematic Botany, Botanic GardenUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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