J Integr Plant Biol ›› 2017, Vol. 59 ›› Issue (3): 180-189.DOI: 10.1111/jipb.12511

• Molecular Ecology and Evolution • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Fitness consequences of altering floral circadian oscillations for Nicotiana attenuata

Felipe Yon1, Danny Kessler1, Youngsung Joo1, Lucas Cortés Llorca1, Sang-Gyu Kim1,2* and Ian T. Baldwin1*   

  1. 1Department of Molecular Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Hans-Knöll-Straße 8, D-07745 Jena, Germany
    2Center for Genome Engineering, Institute for Basic Science, Yuseong-gu, 34047 Daejeon, South Korea

Abstract:

Ecological interactions between flowers and pollinators are all about timing. Flower opening/closing and scent emissions are largely synchronized with pollinator activity, and a circadian clock regulates these rhythms. However, whether the circadian clock increases a plant's reproductive success by regulating these floral rhythms remains untested. Flowers of Nicotiana attenuata, a wild tobacco, diurnally and rhythmically open, emit scent and move vertically through a 140° arc to interact with nocturnal hawkmoths. We tethered flowers to evaluate the importance of flower positions for Manduca sexta-mediated pollinations; flower position dramatically influenced pollination. We examined the pollination success of phase-shifted flowers, silenced in circadian clock genes, NaZTL, NaLHY, and NaTOC1, by RNAi. Circadian rhythms in N. attenuata flowers are responsible for altered seed set from outcrossed pollen.

Wild tobacco flowers rhythmically open, emit scent and move vertically through a 140° arc. Flower position dramatically influenced cross-pollination success and seed set with nocturnal hawkmoths. By waving their flowers, this plant engages in a botanical version of synchronized dancing with its pollinators and filters its partners in this dance.
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