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Ecological Section

Klooster, Matthew R. [1], Culley, Theresa M. [1].

Flowering phenology, pollination ecology, and gene flow in the myco-heterotroph, Monotropsis odorata (Ericaceae).

Monotropsis odorata is an endemic plant species of the North American Appalachian Mountain range occupying a profoundly unique ecological niche. As an achlorophyllous, myco-heterotroph, it acts as an indirect parasite, assimilating carbohydrates channeled from neighboring host trees through shared mycorrhizal connections. Prior research has focused primarily upon these mycorrhizal interactions leaving a substantial gap in our knowledge of the pollination ecology and population genetics of this species. A three year study is presently being performed to investigate the flowering phenology, reproductive biology, and levels of genetic variation in populations of M. odorata. Through coordinated effort with the U.S. National Forest Service, sizable populations of this species were identified in Kentucky and Tennessee and are being used to conduct this research. The reproductive biology of this species was analyzed in the Spring of 2005 through field manipulations using tented and untented treatments. Nylon, pollinator-exclusion tents were used to test for self-compatibility and autogamy. Untented treatments of naturally pollinated plants were used to detect pollinator limitation and occurrences of floral herbivory. Pollinator observations were also video taped, documenting pollinator diversity and visitation rates. To add support to field observations, microsatellite markers are presently being developed to determine the effects of habitat fragmentation on levels of genetic variation within and between populations. Experimental treatments will be repeated in the spring of 2006 and 2007 to determine seasonal trends in flowering phenology and fecundity. The results of this multifaceted study will reveal selective pressures imposed upon the reproductive biology and fitness of these plants by pollinators and possibly herbivores, offering insight into the evolutionary history of M. odorata.


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Related Links:
Investigating the pollination ecology and population genetics of three myco-heterotrophic species in the Monotropoideae (Ericaceae)


1 - University of Cincinnati, Department of Biological Sciences, 614 Rieveschl Hall, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45221, USA

Keywords:
Monotropsis odorata
flowering phenology
pollination
myco-heterotroph
reproductive biology
microsatellite
gene flow.

Presentation Type: Poster
Session: 33-25
Location: Salon C, D & E - Gov Ballroom/Hilton
Date: Tuesday, August 16th, 2005
Time: 12:30 PM
Abstract ID:321


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