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Pollinator recognition by a keystone tropical plant [PNAS]

by Frédéric Magné - published on , updated on

By using structural characteristics, such as long tubular flowers, plants are known to achieve selective visitation by certain pollinator species. These morphological traits typically arise over evolutionary timescales. We show for the first time, to our knowledge, that at least one plant has also evolved the capacity to recognize pollinator species immediately after visitation, thereby increasing the likelihood that a flower visitor has delivered high-quality pollen. This novel responsiveness by the plant leads to functional specialization in an apparently generalized tropical plant–pollinator network. Such specialized linkages likely facilitate coevolution but also, render pollination mutualisms more vulnerable to environmental change.

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