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Luo, Shi-Xiao; Zhang, Lian-Jie; Yuan, Shuai; Ma, Zhong-Hui; Zhang, Dian-Xiang; Renner, Susanne S. (2018): The largest early-diverging angiosperm family is mostly pollinated by ovipositing insects and so are most surviving lineages of early angiosperms. In: Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences, Vol. 285, No. 1870, 20172365
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Insect pollination in basal angiosperms is assumed to mostly involve 'generalized' insects looking for food, but direct observations of ANITA grade (283 species) pollinators are sparse. We present newdata for numerous Schisandraceae, the largest ANITA family, from fieldwork, nocturnal filming, electron microscopy, barcoding and molecular clocks to infer pollinator/plant interactions over multiple years at sites throughout China to test the extent of pollinator specificity. Schisandraceae are pollinated by nocturnal gall midges that lay eggs in the flowers and whose larvae then feed on floral exudates. At least three Schisandraceae have shifted to beetle pollination. Pollination by a single midge species predominates, but one species was pollinated by different species at three locations and one by two at the same location. Based on molecular clocks, gall midges and Schisandraceae may have interacted since at least the Early Miocene. Combining these findings with a review of all published ANITA pollination data shows that ovipositing flies are the most common pollinators of living representatives of the ANITA grade. Compared to food reward-based pollination, oviposition-based systems are less wasteful of plant gametes because (i) none are eaten and (ii) female insects with herbivorous larvae reliably visit conspecific flowers.