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News & events

The gravity of pollination

March 4, 2015

The VCU Rice Rivers Center congratulates Dr. Rodney Dyer and Dr. Angela Redwine on their publication, “The gravity of pollination: integrating at-site features into spatial analysis of contemporary pollen movement”, published in Molecular Ecology (2014).

The abstract reads as follows:

Pollen-mediated gene flow is a major driver of spatial genetic structure in plant populations. Both individual plant characteristics and site-specific features of the landscape can modify the perceived attractiveness of plants to their pollinators and thus play an important role in shaping spatial genetic variation. Most studies of landscape-level genetic connectivity in plants have focused on the effects of interindividual distance using spatial and increasingly ecological separation, yet have not incorporated individual plant characteristics or other at-site ecological variables. Using spatially explicit simulations, we first tested the extent to which the inclusion of at-site variables influencing local pollination success improved the statistical characterization of genetic connectivity based upon examination of pollen pool genetic structure. The addition of at-site characteristics provided better models than those that only considered interindividual spatial distance (e.g. IBD). Models parameterized using conditional genetic covariance (e.g. population graphs) also outperformed those assuming panmixia. In a natural population of Cornus florida L. (Cornaceae), we showed that the addition of at-site characteristics (clumping of primary canopy opening above each maternal tree and maternal tree floral output) provided significantly better models describing gene flow than models including only between-site spatial (IBD) and ecological (isolation by resistance) variables. Overall, our results show that including interindividual and local ecological variation greatly aids in characterizing landscape-level measures of contemporary gene flow.

Dileo, M. F., Siu, J. C., Rhodes, M.K., Lopez-Villalobos, A., Redwine, A., Ksiazek, K. & Dyer, R.J. (2014) The gravity of pollination: integrating at-site features into spatial analysis of contemporary pollen movement. Molecular Ecology, 23(16), 3973-3982.

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