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Status of self-pollen in bee pollination efficiency of white clover (Trifolium repens L.)

Rodet G., Vaissière B.E., Brévault T., Torre Grossa J.P.. 1998. Oecologia, 114 : p. 93-99.

DOI: 10.1007/s004420050424

Flowers of white clover (Trifolium repens L.) are hermaphrodite and self-incompatible; their cross- pollination depends entirely on insect visitors, mainly bees (Apoidea). Because self-pollination of white clover occurs before flower anthesis, we determined whether selfing affected the pollination efficiency of a honeybee visit. We compared pollen deposition in emasculated and intact flowers following (1) a single honeybee visit, (2) open-pollination for a day and (3) enclosure in a cloth bag to prevent insect visits. In emasculated flowers, open-pollination resulted in more pollen deposited than after one visit (+30%) which is consistent with flowers being visited more than once by pollinators during the course of a day. On intact flowers, saturation of the stigma was achieved after the first visit of a honeybee (near 280 grains) because of self-pollination. Additional visits did not increase pollen deposits, but they improved pollen efficiency in terms of numbers of pollen tubes reaching the ovules. In such a context of easily saturated stigmas, self-pollen does not inhibit cross-pollen activity, but represents a constraint for pollination which demands multiple bee visits to each flower to achieve maximum fertilization.

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