High species richness of native pollinators in Brazilian tomato crops.

Abstract

Pollinators provide an essential service to natural ecosystems and agriculture. In tomatoes flowers, anthers are poricidal, pollen may drop from their pore when flowers are shaken by the wind. However, bees that vibrate these anthers increase pollen load on the stigma and in fruit production. The present study aimed to identify the pollinator richness of tomato flowers and investigate their morphological and functional traits related to the plant-pollinator interaction in plantations of Central Brazil. The time of anthesis, flower duration, and the number and viability of pollen grains and ovules were recorded. Floral visitors were observed and collected. Flower buds opened around 6h30 and closed around 18h00. They reopened on the following day at the same time in the morning, lasting on average 48 hours. The highest pollen availability occurred during the first hours of anthesis. Afterwards, the number of pollen grains declined, especially between 10h00 to 12h00, which is consistent with the pollinator visitation pattern. Forty bee species were found in the tomato fields, 30 of which were considered pollinators. We found that during the flowering period, plants offered an enormous amount of pollen to their visitors. These may explain the high richness and amount of bees that visit the tomato flowers in the study areas. The period of pollen availability and depletion throughout the day overlapped with the bees foraging period, suggesting that bees are highly effective in removing pollen grains from anthers. Many of these grains probably land on the stigma of the same flower, leading to self-pollination and subsequent fruit development. Native bees (Exomalopsis spp.) are effective pollinators of tomato flowers and are likely to contribute to increasing crop productivity. On the other hand, here tomato flowers offer large amounts of pollen resource to a high richness and amount of bees, showing a strong plant-pollinator interaction in the study agroecosystem.

DOI: 10.1590/1519-6984.17515

Cite this paper

@article{SilvaNeto2017HighSR, title={High species richness of native pollinators in Brazilian tomato crops.}, author={Carlos M. Silva-Neto and Leonardo Lima Bergamini and Marcos A. S. Elias and Gustavo L. Moreira and Jaqueline Martins Morais and B A R Bergamini and Edivani Villaron Franceschinelli}, journal={Brazilian journal of biology = Revista brasleira de biologia}, year={2017}, volume={77 3}, pages={506-513} }