The petal epidermis acts not only as a barrier to the outside world but also as a point of interaction between the flower and potential pollinators. The presence of conical petal epidermal cells has previously been shown to influence the attractiveness of the flower to pollinating insects. Using Antirrhinum isogenic lines differing only in the presence of a single epidermal structure, conical cells, we were able to investigate how the structure of the epidermis influences petal wettability by measuring the surface contact angle of water drops. Conical cells have a significant impact on how water is retained on the flower surface, which may have indirect consequences for pollinator behaviour. We discuss how the petal epidermis is a highly multifunctional one and how a battery of methods, including the use of isogenic lines, is required to untangle the impacts of specific epidermal properties in an ecological context.
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Date Published: 10-March-2011
Author(s): Whitney H., Poetes R., Steiner U., Chittka L., Glover B.