Plant Diversity ›› 2018, Vol. 40 ›› Issue (01): 28-34.DOI: 10.1016/j.pld.2017.11.004

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Light induces petal color change in Quisqualis indica (Combretaceae)

Juan Yana,b, Menglin Wanga,b, Ling Zhanga   

  1. a Key Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Mengla, Yunnan 666303, China;
    b University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2017-08-01 Revised:2017-11-20 Online:2018-02-25 Published:2021-11-05
  • Contact: Ling Zhang
  • Supported by:
    This work was funded by a grant from the National Nature Science Foundation of China (31670393 and 31170406) that was awarded to L. Zhang. We thank Mr. Xinxing He, Mr. Zhiran Wang, Mr. Jianmin Gan, and Mr. Qiaoshun Li from the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden for their assistance in field experiments, Dr. Jin Zhao assisted with some data analysis. We would like to thank Dr. Sandhya Mishra for English language editing.

Abstract: Petal color change, a common phenomenon in angiosperms, is induced by various environmental and endogenous factors. Interestingly, this phenomenon is important for attracting pollinators and further reproductive success. Quisqualis indica L. (Combretaceae) is a tropical Asian climber that undergoes sequential petal color change from white to pink to red. This color changing process is thought to be a good strategy to attract more pollinators. However, the underlying physiological and biochemical mechanisms driving this petal color change phenomenon is still underexplored. In this context, we investigated whether changes in pH, pollination, light, temperature or ethylene mediate petal color change. We found that the detected changes in petal pH were not significant enough to induce color alterations. Additionally, pollination and temperatures of 20-30℃ did not alter the rate of petal color change; however, flowers did not open when exposed to constant temperatures at 15℃ or 35℃. Moreover, the application of ethylene inhibitor, i.e., silver thiosulphate, did not prevent color change. It is worth mentioning here that in our study we found light as a strong factor influencing the whole process of petal color change, as petals remained white under dark conditions. Altogether, the present study suggests that petal color change in Q. indica is induced by light and not by changes in petal pH, pollination, ethylene, or temperature, while extremely low or high temperatures affect flower anthesis. In summary, our findings represent the probable mechanism underlying the phenomenon of petal color change, which is important for understanding flower color evolution.

Key words: Environmental factors, Ethylene, Petal color, pH, Pollination, Temperature