No evidence of flowering synchronization upon floral volatiles for a short lived annual plant species: Revisiting an appealing hypothesis
Fricke, Ute ; Lucas-Barbosa, Dani ; Douma, Jacob C. - \ 2019
BMC Ecology 19 (2019)1. - ISSN 1472-6785
Flowering onset - Flowering synchronization - Phenology - Plant-plant communication
Background: Self-incompatible plants require simultaneous flowering mates for crosspollination and reproduction. Though the presence of flowering conspecifics and pollination agents are important for reproductive success, so far no cues that signal the flowering state of potential mates have been identified. Here, we empirically tested the hypothesis that plant floral volatiles induce flowering synchrony among self-incompatible conspecifics by acceleration of flowering and flower opening rate of non-flowering conspecifics. We exposed Brassica rapa Maarssen, a self-incompatible, in rather dense patches growing annual, to (1) flowering or non-flowering conspecifics or to (2) floral volatiles of conspecifics by isolating plants in separate containers with a directional airflow. In the latter, odors emitted by non-flowering conspecifics were used as control. Results: Date of first bud, duration of first flower bud, date of first flower, maximum number of open flowers and flower opening rate were not affected by the presence of conspecific flowering neighbors nor by floral volatiles directly. Conclusions: This study presents a compelling approach to empirically test the role of flower synchronization by floral volatiles and challenges the premises that are underlying this hypothesis. We argue that the life history of the plant as well as its interaction with pollinators and insect herbivores, as well as the distance over which volatiles may serve as synchronization cue, set constraints on the fitness benefits of synchronized flowering which needs to be taken into account when testing the role of floral volatiles in synchronized flowering.