Do food trichomes occur in Pinguicula (Lentibulariaceae) flowers?

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Lustofin, Krzysztof
Świątek, Piotr
Stolarczyk, Piotr
Miranda, Vitor F.O. [UNESP]
Płachno, Bartosz J.
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Background and Aims Floral food bodies (including edible trichomes) are a form of floral reward for pollinators. This type of nutritive reward has been recorded in several angiosperm families: Annonaceae, Araceae, Calycanthaceae, Eupomatiaceae, Himantandraceae, Nymphaeaceae, Orchidaceae, Pandanaceae and Winteraceae. Although these bodies are very diverse in their structure, their cells contain food material: starch grains, protein bodies or lipid droplets. In Pinguicula flowers, there are numerous multicellular clavate trichomes. Previous authors have proposed that these trichomes in the Pinguicula flower play the role of 'futterhaare' ('feeding hairs') and are eaten by pollinators. The main aim of this study was to investigate whether the floral non-glandular trichomes of Pinguicula contain food reserves and thus are a reward for pollinators. The trichomes from the Pinguicula groups, which differ in their taxonomy (species from the subgenera: Temnoceras, Pinguicula and Isoloba) as well as the types of their pollinators (butterflies/flies and bees/hummingbirds), were examined. Thus, it was determined whether there are any connections between the occurrence of food trichomes and phylogeny position or pollination biology. Additionally, we determined the phylogenetic history of edible trichomes and pollinator evolution in the Pinguicula species. • Methods The species that were sampled were: Pinguicula moctezumae, P. esseriana, P. moranensis, P. emarginata, P. rectifolia, P. mesophytica, P. hemiepiphytica, P. agnata, P. albida, P. ibarrae, P. martinezii, P. filifolia, P. gigantea, P. lusitanica, P. alpina and P. vulgaris. Light microscopy, histochemistry, and scanning and transmission electron microscopy were used to address our aims with a phylogenetic perspective based on matK/ trnK DNA sequences. • Key Results No accumulation of protein bodies or lipid droplets was recorded in the floral non-glandular trichomes of any of the analysed species. Starch grains occurred in the cells of the trichomes of the bee-/fly-pollinated species: P. agnata, P. albida, P. ibarrae, P. martinezii, P. filifolia and P. gigantea, but not in P. alpina or P. vulgaris. Moreover, starch grains were not recorded in the cells of the trichomes of the Pinguicula species that have long spurs, which are pollinated by Lepidoptera (P. moctezumae, P. esseriana, P. moranensis, P. emarginata and P. rectifolia) or birds (P. mesophytica and P. hemiepihytica), or in species with a small and whitish corolla that self-pollinate (P. lusitanica). The results on the occurrence of edible trichomes and pollinator syndromes were mapped onto a phylogenetic reconstruction of the genus. • Conclusion Floral non-glandular trichomes play the role of edible trichomes in some Pinguicula species (P. agnata, P. albida, P. ibarrae, P. martinezii, P. filifolia and P. gigantea), which are mainly classified as bee-pollinated species that had originated from Central and South America. It seems that in the Pinguicula that are pollinated by other pollinator groups (Lepidoptera and hummingbirds), the non-glandular trichomes in the flowers play a role other than that of a floral reward for their pollinators. Edible trichomes are symplesiomorphic for the Pinguicula species, and thus do not support a monophyletic group such as a synapomorphy. Nevertheless, edible trichomes are derived and are possibly a specialization for fly and bee pollinators by acting as a food reward for these visitors.
Butterworts, Carnivorous plants, Floral micro-morphology, Food hairs, Lentibulariaceae, Pinguicula, Spur, Trichome structure, Trichomes
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Annals of Botany, v. 126, n. 6, p. 1039-1048, 2020.