Kin discrimination allows plants to modify investment towards pollinator attraction

Nat Commun. 2018 May 22;9(1):2018. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-04378-3.


Pollinators tend to be preferentially attracted to large floral displays that may comprise more than one plant in a patch. Attracting pollinators thus not only benefits individuals investing in advertising, but also other plants in a patch through a 'magnet' effect. Accordingly, there could be an indirect fitness advantage to greater investment in costly floral displays by plants in kin-structured groups than when in groups of unrelated individuals. Here, we seek evidence for this strategy by manipulating relatedness in groups of the plant Moricandia moricandioides, an insect-pollinated herb that typically grows in patches. As predicted, individuals growing with kin, particularly at high density, produced larger floral displays than those growing with non-kin. Investment in attracting pollinators was thus moulded by the presence and relatedness of neighbours, exemplifying the importance of kin recognition in the evolution of plant reproductive strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brassicaceae / anatomy & histology
  • Brassicaceae / classification
  • Brassicaceae / physiology*
  • Flowers / anatomy & histology
  • Flowers / classification
  • Flowers / physiology*
  • Insecta / physiology
  • Plant Physiological Phenomena*
  • Pollination / physiology