Effects of Heterospecific Pollen From a Wind-Pollinated and Pesticide-Treated Plant on Reproductive Success of an Insect-Pollinated Species

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Premise of The Study: Studies on the effects of heterospecific pollen (HP) transfer have been focused mainly on insect-pollinated species, despite evidence of insect visitation to wind-pollinated species and transfer of their pollen onto stigmas of insect-pollinated plants. Thus, the potential consequences of HP transfer from wind-pollinated species remain largely unknown. Furthermore, accumulation of pesticide residues in pollen of wind-pollinated crops has been documented, but its potential effects on wild plant species via HP transfer have not been tested. Methods: We evaluated the effect of wind-dispersed Zea mays pollen on pollen tube growth of the insect-pollinated Mimulus nudatus via hand pollinations. We further evaluated whether pesticide-contaminated Z. mays pollen has larger effects on M. nudatus pollen success than non-contaminated Z. mays pollen. Key Results: We found a significant negative effect of Z. mays pollen on M. nudatus pollen tube growth even when deposited in small amounts. However, we did not observe any difference in the magnitude of this effect between pesticide-laden Z. mays pollen and non-contaminated Z. mays pollen. Conclusions: Our results suggest that wind-pollinated species can have negative effects as HP donors on insect-pollinated recipients. Thus, their role in shaping co-flowering interactions for wind- and insect-pollinated species deserves more attention. Although we did not find evidence that pesticide contamination increased HP effects, we cannot fully rule out the existence of such an effect, because pollen load and thus the pesticide dose applied to stigmas was low. This result should be confirmed using other HP donors and across a range of HP loads, pesticide types, and concentrations.