SICB Logo: Click Here to go to the SICB Home Page

Meeting Abstract

SICB+    Why are some Penstemon flowers personate? Depatie, TH*; Wessinger, CA; University of South Carolina; University of South Carolina

The genus Penstemon has been studied as a model to understand plant-pollinator interactions, with most attention focused on the shift from ancestral bee to hummingbird pollination. However, Penstemon has evolved other floral adaptations, such as personate flowers seen in a few species that occur in eastern North America. Personate flowers are distinguished by an upward bulge in the lower lip of the corolla tube, which seals off the floral passageway. This novel floral trait is also seen in other species within the family Plantaginaceae, like the common snapdragon (Antirrhinum) and toadflax (Linaria). There are multiple ecological hypotheses for the repeated evolution of personate flowers. The first is that the exclusionary morphology of personate flowers prevents undesirable pollinators from entering the flower. The second is that personate flower’s closed lips serve as internal barriers, thus improving the capacity for self-fertilization. The evolution of personate flower morphology provides an opportunity to investigate the ecological function and history of a novel floral trait. This poster will provide insights into the ecological function of personate flowers in Eastern North American Penstemon species.