Image_1_Major Flower Pigments Originate Different Colour Signals to Pollinators.JPEG (240.27 kB)
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Image_1_Major Flower Pigments Originate Different Colour Signals to Pollinators.JPEG

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posted on 05.10.2021, 04:13 by Eduardo Narbona, José Carlos del Valle, Montserrat Arista, María Luisa Buide, Pedro Luis Ortiz

Flower colour is mainly due to the presence and type of pigments. Pollinator preferences impose selection on flower colour that ultimately acts on flower pigments. Knowing how pollinators perceive flowers with different pigments becomes crucial for a comprehensive understanding of plant-pollinator communication and flower colour evolution. Based on colour space models, we studied whether main groups of pollinators, specifically hymenopterans, dipterans, lepidopterans and birds, differentially perceive flower colours generated by major pigment groups. We obtain reflectance data and conspicuousness to pollinators of flowers containing one of the pigment groups more frequent in flowers: chlorophylls, carotenoids and flavonoids. Flavonoids were subsequently classified in UV-absorbing flavonoids, aurones-chalcones and the anthocyanins cyanidin, pelargonidin, delphinidin, and malvidin derivatives. We found that flower colour loci of chlorophylls, carotenoids, UV-absorbing flavonoids, aurones-chalcones, and anthocyanins occupied different regions of the colour space models of these pollinators. The four groups of anthocyanins produced a unique cluster of colour loci. Interestingly, differences in colour conspicuousness among the pigment groups were almost similar in the bee, fly, butterfly, and bird visual space models. Aurones-chalcones showed the highest chromatic contrast values, carotenoids displayed intermediate values, and chlorophylls, UV-absorbing flavonoids and anthocyanins presented the lowest values. In the visual model of bees, flowers with UV-absorbing flavonoids (i.e., white flowers) generated the highest achromatic contrasts. Ours findings suggest that in spite of the almost omnipresence of floral anthocyanins in angiosperms, carotenoids and aurones-chalcones generates higher colour conspicuousness for main functional groups of pollinators.

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