Pollination, Pollinators and Food Production
Flowering plants often depend on the attraction of biotic pollinators for sexual reproduction. Consequently, the emergence and maintenance of selected floral attributes related to pollinator attraction and rewarding are driven by pollinator pressure. In this paper we explore the effect of pollinators, rainfall, temperature and air humidity on the reproduction of a Brazilian terrestrial orchid, Cranichis candida based on data of phenology, flower resources, olfactory and visual attraction cues, pollinators and breeding system. The flowers of C. candida are strongly protandrous and pollinated by workers of the social native bee Tetragonisca angustula. The bees collect labellar lipoidal substances (wax scales), which are transported to the nest. The lipoidal substance is composed of sterols, hydrocarbons and terpenes. The last presumably protects the bees and their nests against pathogens and other arthropods. C. candida sets fruits through biotic self- and cross-pollination, and spontaneously due the action of raindrops on flowers. Our results indicate that in C. candida, although rain-mediated spontaneous self-pollination happens, fructification mediated by biotic pollinations also occurs, which may result in fruit set by cross-pollination. A mixed pollination system must result in higher genetic variability when compared to species whose fruits are produced entirely by self-pollination. On the other hand, autogamy is a form of reproductive assurance, and has commonly evolved where pollination services are rare or absent.
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