Date of this Version
Jadeja S, Tenhumberg B. 2018. Presence of fruits decreases probability of retaining flowers in a sequentially flowering plant. AoB PLANTS 10: ply033; doi: 10.1093/aobpla/ply033
Both intrinsic and extrinsic plant processes affect the fate of flowers along an inflorescence in sequentially flowering plants. We investigated whether the intrinsic process of competition for limited resource between fruits and flowers owing to resource preemption or sink strength of basal fruits, or architectural effects due to posi- tional differences in the probability of retaining flowers, explains a lower probability of retaining distal flowers inYucca glauca. Further, we investigated how the extrinsic process of seed herbivory interacts with the plant’s intrinsic processes of flower retention. We carried out a field experiment to compare flower retention among nine combi- nations of three inflorescence treatments (basal flowers only, distal flowers only, distal flowers with presence of basal fruits) and three ovule damage treatments (no, low and high) that serve as a cue for potential future seed herbivory. Also, we quantified flower retention in naturally pollinated inflorescences. Experimental results showed that the probabilities of retaining basal and distal flowers in the absence of basal fruits were similar, thus rejecting the architectural effects hypothesis. Further, in the presence of basal fruits that were in their initial stages of growth, the probability of retaining distal flowers decreased, which supports the sink strength hypothesis. We did not see an effect of ovule damage. In naturally pollinated inflorescences, the probability of retaining distal flowers decreased with increasing number of basal fruits. Results suggest that basal fruits constitute strong resource sinks reducing the probability of retaining distal flowers. Previous studies have tested this mechanism in cultivated plants. Our study shows evidence for this mechanism in a wild flower population.