Experimental evidence of pollination in marine flowers by invertebrate fauna

Brigitta I. Van Tussenbroek*, Nora Villamil-buenrostro, Judith Márquez-Guzmán, Ricardo Wong, L. Verónica Monroy-Velázquez, Vivianne Solis-Weiss

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Pollen transport by water-flow (hydrophily) is a typical, and almost exclusive, adaptation of plants to life in the marine environment. It is thought that, unlike terrestrial environments, animals are not involved in pollination in the sea. The male flowers of the tropical marine angiosperm Thalassia testudinum open-up and release pollen in mucilage at night when invertebrate fauna is active. Here we present experimental evidence that, in the absence of water-flow, these invertebrates visit the flowers, carry and transfer mucilage mass with embedded pollen from the male flowers to the stigmas of the female flowers. Pollen tubes are formed on the stigmas, indicating that pollination is successful. Thus, T. testudinum has mixed abiotic-biotic pollination. We propose a zoobenthophilous pollination syndrome (pollen transfer in the benthic zone by invertebrate animals) which shares many characteristics with hydrophily, but flowers are expected to open-up during the night.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12980
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sept 2016


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