Why does pollen colour vary in trout lilies (Erythronium americium)?

The pollen grain was a key innovation in the evolution of the land plants. This tiny package transports sperm within a safe envelope, freeing the seed plants from the short mating distances that characterize their cousins (mosses, ferns, and horsetails). Given this critical role, we expect selection to act strongly on pollen characters, and can’t help but be intrigued by species in which pollen grains vary from plant to plant. This research aims to understand the ecological consequences of the red v. yellow pollen colour polymorphism found in trout lilies (Erythronium americanum). Experiments during the 2015 field season will focus on testing whether one pollen colour is more resistant to UV exposure than the other.

Principal Investigator: Jessica Forrest

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