University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Plant Sciences Departmental Seminars > The (micro)diversity of pollination systems in the genus Ceropegia (Apocynaceae: Asclepiadoideae): biogeographic and phylogenetic perspectives

The (micro)diversity of pollination systems in the genus Ceropegia (Apocynaceae: Asclepiadoideae): biogeographic and phylogenetic perspectives

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Large plant genera can give insights into the role of pollinators in promoting the diversification of plant groups if they are studied from biogeographic and phylogenetic perspectives. The genus Ceropegia contains >180 spp. and is an Old World taxon of Apocynaceae subfamily Asclepiadoideae with distinctive flask-shaped flowers which temporarily trap pollinators. Flower visitor and pollinator data for c.60 Ceropegia taxa were analysed with reference to the main centres of diversity of the genus and to a cpDNA-nrDNA molecular phylogeny. The diversity of pollinators, biogeographic and phylogenetic patterns of pollinator exploitation, and the level of specificity of the interactions were all examined. All species are pollinated by small (0.5 – 4.0mm), predominantly female Diptera which are probably searching for egg laying sites. These flowers are therefore deceptive and offer no reward to pollinators. Despite possessing functionally specialized pollination systems, Ceropegia species can be ecological specialists or generalists. Intriguing biogeographic and phylogenetic patterns may reflect processes of regional dispersal and diversification, though some findings may be caused by inconsistent sampling. Comparisons are made with other trap-flower plant genera and the possible role of pollinator loss in the conservation of Ceropegia and other functionally similar genera will be discussed.

http://www2.northampton.ac.uk/portal/page/portal/aps/appliedscience/envsci/staff/jeff-ollerton

This talk is part of the Plant Sciences Departmental Seminars series.

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