MadSci Network: Botany

Re: Pollination of Calochortus amabilis

Date: Thu Jun 29 10:38:54 2006
Posted By: David Hershey, Faculty, Botany, NA
Area of science: Botany
ID: 1151007852.Bt

You ask several interesting questions that may not have been researched. The
first reference indicates that most Calochortus are generalists in regard to
insect pollinators. You might wish to email the authors with your questions and
to ask for a copy of their Calochortus articles. 

It seems likely that a generalist plant species for pollinators would have an
advantage over a specialist species in certain situations. If the specialist
species lost its only pollinator, it could be in deep trouble. Losing a single
pollinator species for a generalist plant species would not be as serious. On
the other hand, a specialist plant species might have a more efficient
pollinator than a generalist plant species.

To test your hypothesis of why the flower turns red/orange after pollination.
Take some cut Calochortus flowers indoors before they open and place them where
insects cannot get at them. As a control, hand pollinate some cut flowers. If
they do not turn red/orange in unpollinated, then you can establish that
pollination causes the change. An alternative explanation is that the red/orange
color develops due to senescence whether or not the flower is pollinated.

Your questions on whether the red/orange color is due to stored sugars would be
more difficult to test. It might require biochemical work. First, you would have
to identify the red/orange pigments. It may be an anthocyanin, which are the
same type of pigments that are produced in autumn tree leaves as a "sunscreen"
(see second reference).


Dilley, James D., Wilson, Paul & Mesler, Michael R. (2000) The radiation of
Calochortus: generalist flowers moving through a mosaic of potential
pollinators. Oikos 89 (2), 209-222. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0706.2000.890201.x

Lee, D.W. and Gould, K.S. Why leaves turn red. American Scientist 90: 524-531.

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