Abstract Detail



Reproductive Processes

Tucker Lima, Joanna [1].

Mysteries of flower color change in Attalea phalerata.

Within the monoecious palm genus Attalea, palms are known to produce creamy-yellow colored flowers, either within unisexual inflorescences, or sometimes in mixed bisexual inflorescences.  Their fascinating sex expression in separate male and female inflorescences originally called my attention to a more detailed study of reproductive biology in this genus and led to the discovery of flower color change among individuals within the Attalea phalerata complex. Monthly phenology observations of A. phalerata specimens in Acre, Brazil, led me to hypothesize that the divergent color presentations resulted from environmental stressors, such as cold temperature, drought, or fire.  But, this hypothesis has since been proven incorrect.  Rather than a response to different environmental conditions over space, daily phenology observations of the same species at Montgomery Botanical Center in Coral Gables, Florida, revealed that A. phalerata flowers change color from creamy-yellow to magenta to purple over the course of a few days after the peduncular bract opens. Remarkably, no species of Attalea outside of the A. phalerata complex follow this same pattern, but instead retain the creamy-yellow flower color until the flowers senesce. While flower color change is not unusual in the plant kingdom, floral color change in A. phalerata sparks multiple questions.  Why is this the only species to display floral color change within the genus? What is the significance of flower color change in A. phalerata?   What advantage is conveyed by floral color change? And, does floral color change attract or repel pollinators?  The dramatic change in A. phalerata flower color presents an ideal opportunity to study reproductive biology and pollination ecology in a poorly known palm and advance our understanding of the dynamic relationship between plants and insects.


1 - Montgomery Botanical Center, Collections Development Dept., 11901 Old Cutler Rd, Coral Gables, FL, 33156, United States

Keywords:
Pollination
reproductive biology
flowering phenology
uricuri.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Number: 0001
Abstract ID:664
Candidate for Awards:None


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