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Integrating past and present studies on Ophrys pollination - a comment on Bradshaw et al.


Vereecken, N J; Streinzer, M; Ayasse, M; Spaethe, J; Paulus, H F; Stökl, J; Cortis, P; Schiestl, F P (2011). Integrating past and present studies on Ophrys pollination - a comment on Bradshaw et al. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 165(4):329-335.

Abstract

In a recent research article in the Botanical Journal
of the Linnean Society Bradshaw et al. (2010) provided
a detailed and richly illustrated comparative
analysis of labellum micromorphology in Ophrys L.
They described the variety of epidermal cell types
and the different patterns of structural complexity
observed in representative species in Ophrys. We
agree with Bradshaw et al. that the study of the
labellum micromorphology, besides its general significance
for plant morphology, is also of interest in the
framework of pollinator attraction, as it might influence
the optical properties of the labellum and play
an important role in directing male insects to the
right position for collection or delivery of pollen
masses during pseudocopulation. The latter aspect
was discovered some 50 years ago by Kullenberg
(1956a, b, 1961) and investigated further by Ågren,
Kullenberg & Sensenbaugh (1984) (a key reference
overlooked by Bradshaw et al.), and the detailed
descriptions by the authors shed light on possible directions of phenotypic evolution in Ophrys.
However, we think that Bradshaw et al. drew largely
unsupported conclusions and overlooked a considerable
body of literature when they discussed the
role and evolution of other floral traits, including
pollinator-attracting signals, patterns of reproductive
isolation and speciation in this genus of sexually
deceptive orchids. Their view is notably summarized
in the abstract of their article, in which they argued
that ‘The relative contributions of olfactory, visual
and tactile cues to the sophisticated pseudocopulatory
pollination mechanism that characterizes Ophrys
remain unclear, but the degree of reproductive isolation
achieved, and thus the speciation rate, have
certainly been greatly exaggerated by most observers’.
This statement echoes similar conclusions in
other papers (see, for example, Bateman et al., 2003;
Pedersen & Faurholdt, 2007; Devey et al., 2008,
2009). Based on a long series of independent past and
present studies, we advocate that the view expressed
in the last section of their article and in the other
works cited below is too simplistic and speculative
and misrepresents the current state of understanding of Ophrys ecology and evolution.

In a recent research article in the Botanical Journal
of the Linnean Society Bradshaw et al. (2010) provided
a detailed and richly illustrated comparative
analysis of labellum micromorphology in Ophrys L.
They described the variety of epidermal cell types
and the different patterns of structural complexity
observed in representative species in Ophrys. We
agree with Bradshaw et al. that the study of the
labellum micromorphology, besides its general significance
for plant morphology, is also of interest in the
framework of pollinator attraction, as it might influence
the optical properties of the labellum and play
an important role in directing male insects to the
right position for collection or delivery of pollen
masses during pseudocopulation. The latter aspect
was discovered some 50 years ago by Kullenberg
(1956a, b, 1961) and investigated further by Ågren,
Kullenberg & Sensenbaugh (1984) (a key reference
overlooked by Bradshaw et al.), and the detailed
descriptions by the authors shed light on possible directions of phenotypic evolution in Ophrys.
However, we think that Bradshaw et al. drew largely
unsupported conclusions and overlooked a considerable
body of literature when they discussed the
role and evolution of other floral traits, including
pollinator-attracting signals, patterns of reproductive
isolation and speciation in this genus of sexually
deceptive orchids. Their view is notably summarized
in the abstract of their article, in which they argued
that ‘The relative contributions of olfactory, visual
and tactile cues to the sophisticated pseudocopulatory
pollination mechanism that characterizes Ophrys
remain unclear, but the degree of reproductive isolation
achieved, and thus the speciation rate, have
certainly been greatly exaggerated by most observers’.
This statement echoes similar conclusions in
other papers (see, for example, Bateman et al., 2003;
Pedersen & Faurholdt, 2007; Devey et al., 2008,
2009). Based on a long series of independent past and
present studies, we advocate that the view expressed
in the last section of their article and in the other
works cited below is too simplistic and speculative
and misrepresents the current state of understanding of Ophrys ecology and evolution.

Citations

15 citations in Web of Science®
16 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, further contribution
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Systematic Botany and Botanical Gardens
Dewey Decimal Classification:580 Plants (Botany)
Language:English
Date:2011
Deposited On:23 Feb 2012 09:36
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:27
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:0024-4074
Publisher DOI:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2011.01112.x
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-56298

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