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The breeding systems of selected Thysanotus species and the influence of floral display size and interspecific pollen transfer on their reproductive success

Eakin-Busher, Emily (2014) The breeding systems of selected Thysanotus species and the influence of floral display size and interspecific pollen transfer on their reproductive success. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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An understanding of the reproductive biology of a plant species is fundamental to understanding its viability, interactions and function within an ecosystem. This study explored the influence of pollination type, floral display size, and interspecific pollen transfer on the production of fruit and seeds in three Thysanotus species (T. manglesianus, T. multiflorus and T. triandrus). Thysanotus is a native, buzz-pollinated genus, and currently there is a dearth of knowledge regarding its reproductive biology. The present study aimed to fill this gap in the research by presenting a general overview of these species. The findings may then provide a basis for future research of other native, buzz pollinated species.

This study used Thysanotus populations at a nature reserve in Langford, Western Australia to determine breeding systems and the influence of inflorescence size and application of heterospecific pollen on their fruit and seed sets. Breeding systems for each species were determined by hand pollinating flowers with self or outcross pollen, and recording the resulting fruit set. The influence of floral display size (of T. multiflorus and T. triandrus) was determined by looking at differences in the number of fruit and seeds produced by plants with different sized floral displays. To examine the effect of heterospecific pollen on reproduction, T. multiflorus pollen was applied to the stigmas of T. triandrus flowers and, over one hour later, either outcross or self-pollen was applied and the resulting fruit and seed set was recorded.

All of the study species have a mixed mating system (i.e. produce seed from self or outcross pollen). Increased floral display size did not significantly increase fruit and seed set, or geitonogamous reproduction in T. multiflorus. In T. triandrus, a greater proportion of flowers set fruit from small floral displays than large, and large size did appear to increase geitonogamy. Interspecific pollen transfer had no effect on the fruit and seed set of T. triandrus, and pollinators did not distinguish between the flowers of the two species, so there was no evidence that pollinators could be instrumental in reproductive isolation.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Supervisor(s): Ladd, Phil
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