Macroevolution of flower color patterning: biased transition rates and correlated evolution with flower size
Floral pigmentation patterns can both mediate plant-pollinator interactions and modify the abiotic environment of reproductive structures. To date there have been no inquiries into the rate and directionality of macroevolutionary transitions between patterned and non-patterned petals despite their ecological importance and ubiquity across angiosperms. Petals in the Potentilleae tribe (Rosaceae) display color patterns in the ultraviolet (UV) and human-visible spectrum, or can be uniform in color (i.e., patternless). Using a phylogeny of Potentilleae, I test whether evolutionary transition rates between patterned and non-patterned petals are biased in either direction. I then examine whether UV and human-visible patterns are phylogenetically correlated and test the prediction that color patterns will evolve in concert with larger flowers if they function as guides to orient pollinators to floral rewards. I found that transition rates were biased toward petals that were uniform in color. Transition rates from patterned to uniformly-colored petals were two and six times higher than the reverse for UV and human-visible pattern, respectively. The presence of UV and human-visible pattern evolved independently from one another. However, the evolution of human-visible pattern was associated with the evolution of larger flowers but the evolution of UV pattern was correlated with the evolution of smaller flowers. I posit that the transition bias towards non-patterned flowers may reflect developmental constraints on spatial regulation of pigments required to produce floral color patterning. The correlated evolution of larger flowers and human-visible pigmentation patterns support the hypothesis that nectar or pollen guides are more likely to evolve in larger-flowered species. This work provides insight into how transition rate bias and trait correlations can shape phylogenetic patterns of floral color pattern diversity.
Koski, Matthew (2021), "Macroevolution of flower color patterning: biased transition rates and correlated evolution with flower size", Zenodo, doi: 10.5061/dryad.k98sf7m3z