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Abstract Detail


Watts, Jacob [1], Harrington, Aidan [2], Watkins, James [3].

Microarthropods Increase Sporophyte Formation and Enhance Fitness of Ferns.

The long held paradigm that angiosperms were the first plants to evolve insect mediated fertilization has come under increasing scrutiny. While it is established that some cycad species can be both wind and beetle pollinated; more recent discoveries show that microarthropods facilitate sperm transfer in mosses. Such discoveries have the potential to change the way we think about plant-animal interactions. Surprisingly, no study has yet investigated the role of insects in the fertilization of homosporous fern gametophytes despite their unique and complex mating systems. Regardless of their capacity for gametophytic selfing, ferns promote outcrossing through a myriad of mechanisms such as antheridiogen systems, phenology, and chemical cues to guide swimming sperm toward the archegonia. Mutualistic relationships with insects may be another, yet still unexplored, mechanism by which ferns promote fertilization and outcrossing. To investigate this, we examined the influence of Folsomia candida (Order: Collembola; Common name: Springtails) on the reproductive biology of Osmunda claytoniana, O. regalis, and Macrothelypteris torresiana. Specifically, we asked if the presence of Collembola would impact total sporophyte formation, formation rate, outcrossing, and if these microarthropods altered sporophyte size (a proxy for fitness). We are also undergoing GC/MS analyses to identify volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by fern gametophytes. The preliminary results of this ongoing work demonstrate an important and positive role of these microarthropods: not only did the presence of these microarthropods enhance fertilization, they also influenced the rate of sporophyte formation and size. These results shed light on the unappreciated capacity that insects can have in fern reproduction and may require us to rethink the evolution of plant-animal interactions.

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1 - Colgate University, CU Box X 5396 13 Oak Dr., Hamilton, NY, 13346, United States
2 - Colgate University, Biology, 13 Oak Drive, Biology, Biology, Hamilton, NY, 13346, United States
3 - Colgate University, Biology, 13 Oak Drive, Hamilton, NY, 13346, United States

plant-insect interactions
reproductive biology

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: PTR2, Pteridology II
Location: /
Date: Monday, July 19th, 2021
Time: 1:45 PM(EDT)
Number: PTR2002
Abstract ID:948
Candidate for Awards:Edgar T. Wherry award

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