Oviposition by mutualistic seed-consuming pollinators reduces fruit abortion in a recently discovered pollination mutualism

Abstract

A prerequisite for the evolutionary stability of pollinating seed-consuming mutualisms is that each partner benefits from the association. However, few studies of such mutualism have considered the benefit gained by the pollinators. Here, we determined how the pollinating seed-predators ensure the provisioning of their offspring in the recently discovered mutualism between Rheum nobile and Bradysia flies. The correlation between flower fate and fly oviposition was examined. Floral traits and patterns of variation in fruit abortion and fly oviposition were investigated to determine whether female flies exhibit preferences for particular flowers when laying eggs. Indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) was quantified to determine whether female flies manipulate host physiology. Flowers that flies oviposited on had a significantly lower probability of fruit abortion compared with intact flowers. Females did not exhibit oviposition preference for any of the floral traits examined. There was no significant correlation between fruit abortion and fly oviposition in terms of either flower position or timing of flowering. IAA concentrations in oviposited flowers were significantly higher than in intact flowers. Our results suggest that oviposition by the mutualistic seed-consuming pollinator Bradysia sp., greatly reduces the probability of fruit abortion of its host, R. nobile; this may be attributed to the manipulation of host physiology through regulating IAA levels.

DOI: 10.1038/srep29886

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Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Song2016OvipositionBM, title={Oviposition by mutualistic seed-consuming pollinators reduces fruit abortion in a recently discovered pollination mutualism}, author={Bo Song and J{\"{u}rg St{\"{o}cklin and Yong-Qian Gao and De-Li Peng and Min-Shu Song and Hang Sun}, booktitle={Scientific reports}, year={2016} }