Oilseed rape (Brassica napus) as a resource for farmland insect pollinators: quantifying floral traits in conventional varieties and breeding systems

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Carruthers, J. M., Cook, S. M., Wright, G. A., Osborne, J. L., Clark, S. J., Swain, J. L. and Haughton, A. J. 2017. Oilseed rape (Brassica napus) as a resource for farmland insect pollinators: quantifying floral traits in conventional varieties and breeding systems. GCB Bioenergy. 9 (8), pp. 1370-1379.

AuthorsCarruthers, J. M., Cook, S. M., Wright, G. A., Osborne, J. L., Clark, S. J., Swain, J. L. and Haughton, A. J.
Abstract

Oilseed rape (OSR; Brassica napus L.) is a major crop in temperate regions and provides an important source of nutrition to many of the yield‐enhancing insect flower visitors that consume floral nectar. The manipulation of mechanisms that control various crop plant traits for the benefit of pollinators has been suggested in the bid to increase food security, but little is known about inherent floral trait expression in contemporary OSR varieties or the breeding systems used in OSR breeding programmes. We studied a range of floral traits in glasshouse‐grown, certified conventional varieties of winter OSR to test for variation among and within breeding systems. We measured 24‐h nectar secretion rate, amount, concentration and ratio of nectar sugars per flower, and sizes and number of flowers produced per plant from 24 varieties of OSR representing open‐pollinated (OP), genic male sterility (GMS) hybrid and cytoplasmic male sterility (CMS) hybrid breeding systems. Sugar concentration was consistent among and within the breeding systems; however, GMS hybrids produced more nectar and more sugar per flower than CMS hybrid or OP varieties. With the exception of ratio of fructose/glucose in OP varieties, we found that nectar traits were consistent within all the breeding systems. When scaled, GMS hybrids produced 1.73 times more nectar resource per plant than OP varieties. Nectar production and amount of nectar sugar in OSR plants were independent of number and size of flowers. Our data show that floral traits of glasshouse‐grown OSR differed among breeding systems, suggesting that manipulation and enhancement of nectar rewards for insect flower visitors, including pollinators, could be included in future OSR breeding programmes.

Keywordscanola; cytoplasmic male sterility; floral traits; genic male sterility; hybrids; nectar; open-pollinated; pollinator declines; rapeseed; sustainable intensification
Year of Publication2017
JournalGCB Bioenergy
Journal citation9 (8), pp. 1370-1379
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1111/gcbb.12438
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Funder project or codeDelivering Sustainable Systems (SS) [ISPG]
Movement and spatial ecology in agricultural landscapes
BBSRC Quota Studentship: The nutritional importance of different mass-flowering crop varieties as early spring forage for pollinators
Publisher's version
Copyright license
CC BY
Supplemental file
Copyright license
Rothamsted Research
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online10 Mar 2017
Publication process dates
Accepted18 Jan 2017
PublisherWiley
ISSN1757-1707

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