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Floral volatile alleles can contribute to pollinator-mediated reproductive isolation in monkeyflowers (Mimulus)

TitleFloral volatile alleles can contribute to pollinator-mediated reproductive isolation in monkeyflowers (Mimulus)
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsByers KJRP, Vela JP, Peng F, Riffell JA, Bradshaw HD
JournalThe Plant Journal
Pagination1031 - 1042
Date PublishedJan-12-2014

Pollinator-mediated reproductive isolation is a major factor in driving the diversification of flowering plants. Studies of floral traits involved in reproductive isolation have focused nearly exclusively on visual signals, such as flower color. The role of less obvious signals, such as floral scent, has been studied only recently. In particular, the genetics of floral volatiles involved in mediating differential pollinator visitation remains unknown. The bumblebee-pollinated Mimulus lewisii and hummingbird-pollinated Mimulus cardinalis are a model system for studying reproductive isolation via pollinator preference. We have shown that these two species differ in three floral terpenoid volatiles - d-limonene, β-myrcene, and E-β-ocimene - that are attractive to bumblebee pollinators. By genetic mapping and in vitro analysis of enzyme activity we demonstrate that these interspecific differences are consistent with allelic variation at two loci, LIMONENE-MYRCENE SYNTHASE (LMS) and OCIMENE SYNTHASE (OS). Mimulus lewisii LMS (MlLMS) and OS (MlOS) are expressed most strongly in floral tissue in the last stages of floral development. Mimulus cardinalis LMS (McLMS) is weakly expressed and has a nonsense mutation in exon 3. Mimulus cardinalis OS (McOS) is expressed similarly to MlOS, but the encoded McOS enzyme produces no E-β-ocimene. Recapitulating the M. cardinalis phenotype by reducing the expression of MlLMS by RNA interference in transgenic M. lewisii produces no behavioral difference in pollinating bumblebees; however, reducing MlOS expression produces a 6% decrease in visitation. Allelic variation at the OCIMENE SYNTHASE locus is likely to contribute to differential pollinator visitation, and thus promote reproductive isolation between M. lewisii and M. cardinalis. OCIMENE SYNTHASE joins a growing list of 'speciation genes' ('barrier genes') in flowering plants.

Short TitlePlant J
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