Comparative micromorphology of nectariferous and nectarless labellar spurs in selected clades of subtribe Orchidinae (Orchidaceae)
Bell, A. K., Roberts, D. L., Hawkins, J. A., Rudall, P. J., Box, M. S. and Bateman, R. M. (2009) Comparative micromorphology of nectariferous and nectarless labellar spurs in selected clades of subtribe Orchidinae (Orchidaceae). Botanical Journal of The Linnean Society, 160 (4). pp. 369-387. ISSN 0024-4074
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00985.x
Floral nectar spurs are widely considered to influence pollinator behaviour in orchids. Spurs of 21 orchid species selected from within four molecularly circumscribed clades of subtribe Orchidinae (based on Platanthera s.l., Gymnadenia-Dactylorhiza s.l., Anacamptis s.l., Orchis s.s.) were examined under light and scanning electron microscopes in order to estimate correlations between nectar production (categorized as absent, trace, reservoir), interior epidermal papillae (categorized as absent, short, medium, long) and epidermal cell striations (categorized as apparently absent, weak, moderate, strong). Closely related congeneric species scored similarly, but more divergent species showed less evidence of phylogenetic constraints. Nectar secretion was negatively correlated with striations and positively correlated with papillae, which were especially frequent and large in species producing substantial reservoirs of nectar. We speculate that the primary function of the papillae is conserving energy through nectar resorption and explain the presence of large papillae in a minority of deceit-pollinated species by arguing that the papillae improve pollination because they are a tactile expectation of pollinating insects. In contrast, the prominence of striations may be a 'spandrel', simply reflecting the thickness of the overlying cuticle. Developmentally, the spur is an invagination of the labellum; it is primarily vascularized by a single 'U'-shaped primary strand, with smaller strands present in some species. Several suggestions are made for developing further, more targeted research programmes. (C) 2009 The Linnean Society of London, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 2009, 160, 369-387.
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