Plant Biol (Stuttg) 2007; 9(6): 694-704
DOI: 10.1055/s-2007-965238
Research Paper

Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart KG · New York

Development of Distylous Flowers and Investment of Biomass in Male and Female Function in Palicourea padifolia (Rubiaceae)

A. Hernández1 , J. F. Ornelas1
  • 1Departamento de Biología Evolutiva, Instituto de Ecología A.C., km. 2.5 Carretera Antigua a Coatepec No. 351, Congregación El Haya, Apartado Postal 63, Xalapa, Veracruz 91070, México
Further Information

Publication History

Received: October 27, 2006

Accepted: March 15, 2007

Publication Date:
12 June 2007 (online)


Knowledge of developmental pathways for achieving differences in style and anther heights, in concert with those of ancillary features accompanied with data in regard to biomass investment to male and female function, provide an excellent opportunity for examining the developmental correlations between primary and ancillary floral traits so as to understand the evolution of heterostyly. The ontogenetic relationships between bud length and anther height and between bud length and style height, and between bud length versus bud width, anther length, and number of pollen grains per anther for long-styled (LS) and short-styled (SS) morphs of P. padifolia are described. We also described the ontogenetic biomass allocation to male and female function and to corolla with elongation of buds harvested at regular intervals. We observed an early termination of stylar growth in SS buds, whereas LS styles steadily increased in size. Morph differences for relative growth rates were significant for anther height, anther length, and pollen number but not for bud width. Bud width and anther length had a negative allometric relationship with bud elongation. The relationship between bud length and number of pollen grains per anther was positive and morph differences in pollen number were detected at later stages of development. An increase in corolla mass involved a disproportionate allocation to the female function in SS flowers and male allocation was similar for the two morphs over the course of development. Our results are consistent with theoretical and empirical data for distylous species with an approach herkogamous ancestor, and with the more general hypothesis of ontogenetic lability of heterostyly, in which morph differences in style and anther heights are achieved in various ways. Variations observed in sexual investment between floral morphs suggest differences in sex expression during flower development.


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J. F. Ornelas

Departamento de Biología Evolutiva
Instituto de Ecología A. C.

km. 2.5 Carretera Antigua a Coatepec No. 351, Congregación El Haya

Apartado Postal 63

Xalapa, Veracruz 91070



Editor: J. T. M. Elzenga