High dependency of chilli fruit set on wild pollinators in southern India
Ongoing pollinator declines threaten the production of many entomophilous crops. Recent reports that yields of animal-pollinated crops in India are increasing less than pollinator-independent ones suggest the occurrence of pollen limitation. We experimentally evaluated if production of the common food crop chilli benefits from insect pollination and if crop production is constrained by lack of pollinators under field conditions. Experiments were conducted in eleven chilli fields distributed across a semi-arid agricultural landscape in Andhra Pradesh, India. The experimental treatments included open controls, open pollen-supplemented flowers, and bagged flowers for pollinator exclusion. The fruit set from the two open treatments (control and pollen supplementation) was about three times higher than that from the exclusion treatment, suggesting strong dependence on insect pollination. Control supplementation treatments did not differ, which suggests that there normally is sufficient pollination for chilli production in the area. Bees contributed 98% of flower visits. Flower visitor abundance correlated with higher fruit set, but only significantly so in the pollen supplemented treatment. While previous studies that are mostly conducted in greenhouse settings suggest that chilli reproduction does not depend much on animal pollination, our field study confirms that presence of animal pollinators increases fruit set. Future research should establish if this also applies to fruit quality and total yield. Our study highlights the importance of field-realistic experiments and warrants research on pollinator dependencies of other crops. The results have implications for crop production in an area where pollinator levels may be sufficiently high for crop pollination today but possibly not in the future due to environmental change.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2021 Johanna Yourstone, Josefin Gunnarsson, Henrik G Smith, Hema Somanathan
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
JPE is an open access journal which means that all content is freely available without charge to the user or his/her institution.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
1) Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
2) Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
3) Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).
To assure a broader targeted audience, content will be included into databases (such as EBSCO) and directories (such as DOAJ).