The androgynophore column, a distinctive floral feature in passion flowers, is strongly crooked or bent in many Passiflora species pollinated by bats. This is a floral feature that facilitates the adaptation to bat pollination. Crooking or bending of plant organs are generally caused by environmental stimulus (e.g. mechanical barriers) and might involve the differential distribution of auxin. Our aim was to study the role of the perianth organs and the effect of auxin in bending of the androgynophore of the bat-pollinated species Passiflora mucronata. Morpho-anatomical characterisation of the androgynophore, including measurements of curvature angles and cell sizes both at the dorsal (convex) and ventral (concave) sides of the androgynophore, was performed on control flowers, flowers from which perianth organs were partially removed and flowers treated either with auxin (2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid; 2,4-D) or with an inhibitor of auxin polar transport (naphthylphthalamic acid; NPA). Asymmetric growth of the androgynophore column, leading to bending, occurs at a late stage of flower development. Removing the physical constraint exerted by perianth organs or treatment with NPA significantly reduced androgynophore bending. Additionally, the androgynophores of plants treated with 2,4-D were more curved when compared to controls. There was a larger cellular expansion at the dorsal side of the androgynophores of plants treated with 2,4-D and in both sides of the androgynophores of plants treated with NPA. This study suggests that the physical constraint exerted by perianth and auxin redistribution promotes androgynophore bending in P. mucronata and might be related to the evolution of chiropterophily in the genus Passiflora.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2014 German Botanical Society and The Royal Botanical Society of the Netherlands.
- Differential growth
- Flower development