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Floral Color Polymorphism and Reproductive Success in Annatto (Bixa orellana L.)

Abstract

Floral color polymorphism of annatto (Bixa orellana L.) offers a wide range of colors that are maintained in the population by either pollinators or non pollinator agents of selection. In the present study, maintenance of different floral colors was analyzed in relation to reproductive success of Bixa orellana. The different floral petal colors (white, amaranth rose, petunia purple or cobalt violet) were determined from selected plants with reflectance spectrophotometry. Phenotypic measures of other floral traits, female reproductive success, seed set, seed output and seed weight also revealed variation between different floral morphs. Records on seed set varied significantly for different floral color morphs. Maximum fruit maturation (58 %) was observed in amaranth rose and least fruit maturation (25 %) in the white morph. Seed set data indicates pollinators’ preference for more intensely colored flowers. This preference may be due to ability of the pollinators to distinguish the morphs through differentially reduced sensitivity at the green wavelengths. In flowers which received fewer insect visits, polymorphism might be maintained by self fertilization. The color morphs showed differences in Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA (RAPD) profile indicating a genetic basis for floral color variation and consequent differences in seed set. Out of 88 bands generated with nine operon primers, 70 were polymorphic. The present study provides valuable information on the influence of petal color on maternal fitness in B. orellana.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Dr. Ashalatha S Nair, Professor and Head, Department of Botany for providing the facilities and Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE) Government of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram, India, for the financial support (No.028/SRSLS/2007/CSTE).

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Correspondence to E. A. Siril.

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Communicated by: Jeremy Harbinson

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Joseph, N., Siril, E.A. Floral Color Polymorphism and Reproductive Success in Annatto (Bixa orellana L.). Tropical Plant Biol. 6, 217–227 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12042-013-9128-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12042-013-9128-y

Keywords

  • Bixa orellana
  • Floral color
  • Fruit set
  • Pollinators
  • RAPD