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The attractive role of floral elements in heterantherous species without pronounced stamen differences


Floral resources can be recognized by visitors through attractants that signal their presence. However, besides petals, it is still unclear how floral elements in heterantherous species are perceived by visiting bees. In this study, we aim to understand the role of stamens and petals of Pleroma granulosum and P. raddianum in attracting pollination bees, mainly by evaluating whether pollinator behaviour differs in response to different sized stamens between which there is no apparent colour contrast. Using colour visual models, we estimated bee colour discrimination between stamen sets and corolla in both species and carried out preference experiments among floral elements, using the bees Bombus morio and Xylocopa frontalis as models in the field. Pollination and feeding stamens are not discriminable by bees in both plant species. Bees only preferred flowers with petals, indicating that they are essential to long-distance attraction. During preferential tests, bees seemed to better respond to visual stimuli on the right side, suggesting lateralization. We also demonstrate that tactile stimulation by the anthers is necessary to trigger bee buzzing behaviour. Thus, since bees were not specifically attracted to any stamen set, heteranthery without colour differences between stamens is not enough to determine bee choice behaviour.

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Fig. 1

(adapted from Luo et al., 2008): a and f—flowers with pollination stamens only (POLLINATION); b and g—flowers with feeding stamens only (FEEDING); c and h—flowers with no stamens (STAMENLESS); d and i—flowers with no petals (PETALLESS). We also had control flowers: e and j—complete flowers (WHOLE). The flowers were presented to bees in a paired system, considering all possible combinations between treatments. White bars = 10 mm

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The authors are very thankful for all the valuable comments made by Isabel Alves dos Santos and Kayna Agostini as well as an anonymous reviewer on the first draft of this manuscript. This work was supported by Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo—FAPESP—to V.L.G.B. [Grant 2010/51494-5, 2012/50425-5]; Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de Minas Gerais—FAPEMIG—to V.L.G.B. [Grant APQ-02497-16]; Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico—CNPq—to M.S. [302781/2016-1] and Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento Pessoal de Nível Superior—CAPES—to F.B.L. [Code 001] and to F.J.T. [PNPD grant; Code 1659767].

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Correspondence to Vinícius Lourenço Garcia de Brito.

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Authors followed all applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals in this study. This study respected the welfare of animals, and excluded situations when animals were in pain.

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de Brito, V.L.G., Leite, F.B., Telles, F.J. et al. The attractive role of floral elements in heterantherous species without pronounced stamen differences. Arthropod-Plant Interactions 15, 23–31 (2021).

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  • Bee behaviour
  • Bee preference
  • Bombus morio
  • Pollen flower
  • Pleroma granulosum
  • Pleroma raddianum
  • Xylocopa frontalis