Special Issue "Pollinator Diversity and Pollination in Agricultural Systems"

A special issue of Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395). This special issue belongs to the section "Crop Breeding and Genetics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Francis Drummond
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Biology and Ecology, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469, USA
Interests: wild blueberry; pollination; genetics; ecology; pest ecology; simulation modeling; statistics; plant physiological ecology
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Animal mediated pollination is important for the diverse food that we consume, depending upon the culture and geographic region in question. While there have been recent advances in pollinator diversity and community ecology associated with crop plants, much remains to be learned about crop plant pollination and the specific roles of crop plant reproductive syndromes and the temporal and spatial dynamics of pollinator diversity and abundance. In addition, the effectiveness and economics of relying upon native pollinators and/or commercially managed pollinators such as the honey bee need to be better resolved. In most crop production systems dependent upon animal pollination, other areas that have not been well researched are the effectiveness of pollinator reservoirs, the competition of neighboring flowering plant pollen with crop bloom, the longevity of stigma receptivity, within-crop-species pollen compatibility and planting designs to maximize fruit sets, the insect efficacy of pollen vectoring, the effects of agricultural chemicals on insect visitation, fruit sets and yields, and plant resource constraints on flower development, all of which are compensatory mechanisms that reduce fruit size. This Special Issue welcomes studies that cover these issues and other important mechanisms that affect crop pollination

Prof. Francis Drummond
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • fruit set
  • yield
  • outcrossing
  • gene flow
  • pollinator communities
  • pollination ecology
  • economics
  • breeding
  • seed production
  • compensation
  • xenogamy
  • geitonogamy

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Special Issue “Pollinator Diversity and Pollination in Agricultural Systems”
Agronomy 2021, 11(6), 1075; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061075 - 26 May 2021
Viewed by 576
Abstract
Animal-mediated pollination and the subsequent fertilization of plants is the most important eco-physiological process that occurs during the production of many fruit, vegetable, and nut crops [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pollinator Diversity and Pollination in Agricultural Systems)

Research

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Article
Pollen Paternity Can Affect Kernel Size and Nutritional Composition of Self-Incompatible and New Self-Compatible Almond Cultivars
Agronomy 2021, 11(2), 326; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11020326 - 12 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 713
Abstract
Breeding programs for horticultural tree crops focus on enhancing productivity, including developing tolerance to pests and diseases and improving crop quality. Pollination services are often critical for crop production, and pollen parents can affect crop quality. We often do not know which pollen [...] Read more.
Breeding programs for horticultural tree crops focus on enhancing productivity, including developing tolerance to pests and diseases and improving crop quality. Pollination services are often critical for crop production, and pollen parents can affect crop quality. We often do not know which pollen parents produce highest quality offspring or, in self-compatible cultivars, how much of the crop comes from cross- versus self-pollination. We quantified the proportions of self- and cross-paternity in an open pollination setting of five standard commercial almond cultivars and of six new almond cultivars selected for yield, kernel size, taste or self-compatibility. We assessed how pollination by different parents affected kernel size and nutritional quality. Kernels from most commercial cultivars and from the new cultivars selected for taste and size resulted almost entirely from cross-pollination. Most kernels from the commercial cultivar ‘Price’ resulted from cross-pollination but 21% resulted from self-pollination. In contrast, 48–91% of kernels from the new self-compatible cultivars resulted from self-pollination. Different cross-pollen parents did not greatly affect kernel size or quality. The proportions of self-paternity in the new self-compatible cultivars varied strongly in an open pollination setting suggesting that some cultivars may be good candidates for establishing monovarietal orchards. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pollinator Diversity and Pollination in Agricultural Systems)
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Article
Using Temporally Resolved Floral Resource Maps to Explain Bumblebee Colony Performance in Agricultural Landscapes
Agronomy 2020, 10(12), 1993; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10121993 - 18 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 791
Abstract
Wild bumblebees are key pollinators of crops and wild plants that rely on the continuous availability of floral resources. A better understanding of the spatio-temporal availability and use of floral food resources may help to promote bumblebees and their pollination services in agricultural [...] Read more.
Wild bumblebees are key pollinators of crops and wild plants that rely on the continuous availability of floral resources. A better understanding of the spatio-temporal availability and use of floral food resources may help to promote bumblebees and their pollination services in agricultural landscapes. We placed colonies of Bombus terrestris L. in 24 agricultural landscapes with various degrees of floral resource availability and assessed different parameters of colony growth and fitness. We estimated pollen availability during different periods of colony development based on detailed information of the bumblebee pollen diet and the spatial distribution of the visited plant species. Total pollen availability did not significantly explain colony growth or fitness. However, when using habitat maps, the weight gain of colonies, the number of queen cells, and colony survival decreased with increasing distance from the forest. The better explanation of bumblebee performance by forest proximity than by (plant-inferred) pollen availability indicates that other functions of forests than pollen provision were important. The conservation of forests next to agricultural land might help to sustain high populations of these important wild pollinators and enhance their crop pollination services. Combining different mapping approaches might help to further disentangle complex relationships between B. terrestris and their environment in agricultural landscapes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pollinator Diversity and Pollination in Agricultural Systems)
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Article
Analysis of Pollination Services Provided by Wild and Managed Bees (Apoidea) in Wild Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium Aiton) Production in Maine, USA, with a Literature Review
Agronomy 2020, 10(9), 1413; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10091413 - 17 Sep 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 696
Abstract
Maine is the largest producer of wild blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium Aiton) in the United States. Pollination comes from combinations of honey bees (Apis mellifera (L.)), commercial bumble bees (Bombus impatiens Cresson), and wild bees. This study addresses (1) previous research [...] Read more.
Maine is the largest producer of wild blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium Aiton) in the United States. Pollination comes from combinations of honey bees (Apis mellifera (L.)), commercial bumble bees (Bombus impatiens Cresson), and wild bees. This study addresses (1) previous research addressing wild-blueberry pollination, (2) effects of wild-bee and honey-bee activity densities on fruit set, yield, and crop value, (3) the economic value of wild-bee communities, and (4) economic consequences of pollinator loss. Bee communities were sampled in 40 fields over three years (2010–2012) and bee activity densities were estimated for bumble bees, honey bees, and other wild bees. These data were applied to an economic model to estimate the value of bee taxa. Bumble bees and honey bees predicted fruit set and reduced its spatial heterogeneity. Other wild bees were not significant predictors of fruit set. Yield was predicted by fruit set and field size, but not pest management tactics. Our analysis showed that disruption in supply of honey bees would result in nearly a 30% decrease in crop yield, buffered in part by wild bees that provide “background” levels of pollination. Honey-bee stocking density and, thus, the activity density of honey bees was greater in larger fields, but not for wild bees. Therefore, a decrease in crop yield would be greater than 30% for large fields due to the proportionally greater investment in honey bees in large fields and a relatively lower contribution by wild bees. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pollinator Diversity and Pollination in Agricultural Systems)
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Article
The Ecology of Autogamy in Wild Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium Aiton): Does the Early Clone Get the Bee?
Agronomy 2020, 10(8), 1153; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10081153 - 07 Aug 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 751
Abstract
Wild blueberry, Vaccinium angustifolium Aiton, for the most part requires cross-pollination. However, there is a continuum across a gradient from zero to 100% in self-compatibility. We previously found by sampling many fields that 20–25% of clones during bloom have high levels of self-compatibility [...] Read more.
Wild blueberry, Vaccinium angustifolium Aiton, for the most part requires cross-pollination. However, there is a continuum across a gradient from zero to 100% in self-compatibility. We previously found by sampling many fields that 20–25% of clones during bloom have high levels of self-compatibility (≥50%). In 2009–2011, and 2015 we studied the ecology of self-pollination in wild blueberry, specifically its phenology and bee recruitment and subsequent bee density on bloom. We found that highly self-compatible clones were predominantly early blooming genotypes in the wild blueberry population. On average, fruit set and berry weight were highest in self-compatible genotypes. The bumble bee community (queens only early in the spring) was characterized by bees that spent large amounts of time foraging in self-compatible plant patches that comprised only a small proportion of the blueberry field, the highest density in the beginning of bloom when most genotypes in bloom were self-compatible. As bloom proceeded in the spring, more plants were in bloom and thus more land area was occupied by blooming plants. The absolute density of bumble bee queens per m2 declined, as a dilution effect, and this probably resulted in lower fruit set throughout the field. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pollinator Diversity and Pollination in Agricultural Systems)
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Article
Pollination Is Sufficient, Even with Low Bee Diversity, in Pumpkin and Winter Squash Fields
Agronomy 2020, 10(8), 1141; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10081141 - 05 Aug 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1020
Abstract
Pumpkins and winter squash require insect pollination to set fruit, but only three bee species are important pollinators of these crops in the Northeastern US. To determine if natural levels of pollen deposition are sufficient for full fruit production, open pollination was measured [...] Read more.
Pumpkins and winter squash require insect pollination to set fruit, but only three bee species are important pollinators of these crops in the Northeastern US. To determine if natural levels of pollen deposition are sufficient for full fruit production, open pollination was measured by counting pollen grains on stigmas, and open pollination was compared to supplemental hand pollination for fruit set, fruit size, and seed number. A threshold of 2300 pollen grains per stigma was sufficient for full pollination and fruit production. This threshold was met in 79 out of 80 combinations of site and sample date over four years on farms across Connecticut with a wide range of field sizes and pest management practices. Along with stigma collection, bees per flower were counted hourly on 100 flowers along a transect. Counts of bumble bees on female flowers were more closely related to the amount of pollen deposited than counts of bees on all flowers or counts of honey bees or squash bees on female flowers. There was tremendous variation in abundance of the three bee species on female flowers across farms within a year and even among years on a single farm. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pollinator Diversity and Pollination in Agricultural Systems)
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Article
Wild Blueberry Fruit Drop: A Consequence of Seed Set?
Agronomy 2020, 10(7), 939; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10070939 - 30 Jun 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 735
Abstract
Wild blueberry is a native plant managed as a crop in northeastern North America. Fruit drop in wild blueberry, Vaccinium angustifolium Aiton, was studied over 6 years (1996–1999, 2008 and 2011). Three hypotheses were tested regarding fruit drop mechanisms from plants (clones) sampled [...] Read more.
Wild blueberry is a native plant managed as a crop in northeastern North America. Fruit drop in wild blueberry, Vaccinium angustifolium Aiton, was studied over 6 years (1996–1999, 2008 and 2011). Three hypotheses were tested regarding fruit drop mechanisms from plants (clones) sampled in the field: (1) proportional fruit drop; (2) constant or uniform fruit drop; and (3) pollen or resource limitation. In addition, the temporal rate of fruit drop was measured between the end of pollination (petal fall) and fruit maturity just prior to harvest (2008 and 2011). The dynamics of fruit drop were different in the two years. The role of pollination intensity in fruit drop was also assessed. Evidence for both proportional fruit drop and resource limitation at the clone level was found but only proportional drop at the field level. Low levels of seed set are associated with fruit drop. In a four-year study (1996–1999), fruit drop ranged from 23.3 to 49.4% of the total set fruit. Partitioning the variance in fruit drop between years, fields and clones (plant genotypes) showed that the highest variation is between stems within clones (37.4%) and clones (plant genotype) within fields (35.4%), followed by between fields (19.8%) and between years (7.4%). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pollinator Diversity and Pollination in Agricultural Systems)
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Article
Native Pollinators (Hymenoptera: Anthophila) in Cotton Grown in the Gulf South, United States
Agronomy 2020, 10(5), 698; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10050698 - 14 May 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1382
Abstract
Native bees (Hymenoptera: Anthophila) were sampled using bee bowls in two states to determine biodiversity in commercial cotton fields of the southern United States. In both states, native bee communities found in cotton fields were dominated by generalist pollinators in the genera Agapostemon [...] Read more.
Native bees (Hymenoptera: Anthophila) were sampled using bee bowls in two states to determine biodiversity in commercial cotton fields of the southern United States. In both states, native bee communities found in cotton fields were dominated by generalist pollinators in the genera Agapostemon, Augochloropsis, Halictus, and Lasioglossum (Hymenoptera: Halictidae), and Melissodes (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Melissodes tepaneca (Cresson) was the most abundant species found in cotton fields in both states. Some species collected are known specialists on other plant taxa, suggesting they may be tourist species. Here we provide a baseline species list of native bees found in cotton. Ordination indicated separation between the communities found in the two states when pooled by genus, but these differences were not significant. While cotton is grown in highly managed and disturbed landscapes, our data suggest that a community of common generalist native pollinators persists. Many of these species are also found in other cropping systems across North America. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pollinator Diversity and Pollination in Agricultural Systems)
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Article
Profitability of Artificial Pollination in ‘Manzanillo’ Olive Orchards
Agronomy 2020, 10(5), 652; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10050652 - 04 May 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 719
Abstract
The fruit set in monovarietal ‘Manzanillo’ olive orchards is significantly increased under cross-pollination. This response lead to pollination designs including pollinizer selection, the number of pollinizer trees per hectare and their distribution in the orchard. However, the assignment of a substantial area to [...] Read more.
The fruit set in monovarietal ‘Manzanillo’ olive orchards is significantly increased under cross-pollination. This response lead to pollination designs including pollinizer selection, the number of pollinizer trees per hectare and their distribution in the orchard. However, the assignment of a substantial area to pollinizers of lesser commercial value might decrease profits. The strong influence of variable climates on the overlap of the blooming phenology of ‘Manzanillo’ and its pollinizer, and on pollen production and dispersal, are also notable risks. Artificial pollination is a feasible alternative to pollination designs, especially for wind-pollination crops such as olives. Here, we present the effects of treatments with different number (zero, one, two or four) of mechanical applications of ‘Barouni’ pollen on fruit set, size, yield, and cost–benefit ratios in heavy- and light-flowering trees of ‘Manzanillo’ trees situated in monovarietal orchards in Sonora, Mexico. Our results showed that, in “on” years (seasons where most trees display abundant flowering), a larger number of cross-pollen artificial applications increased more the final fruit set, yield and, hence, the profits. Fruit size was scarcely affected by the number of applications, although treatments with lower fruit sets had a higher proportion of large-sized fruit and less fruit of petite size. Despite its higher costs, the higher increase in yield made it more profitable to apply cross-pollination four times throughout the blooming period. On the other hand, no significant differences were observed among treatments, regardless of the number of pollinations, in the “off” season (the season in which most trees had a light flowering level). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pollinator Diversity and Pollination in Agricultural Systems)
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Review

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Review
Nocturnal Bees as Crop Pollinators
Agronomy 2021, 11(5), 1014; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11051014 - 20 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 783
Abstract
Bees are typically diurnal but around 1% of described species have nocturnal activity. Nocturnal bees are still poorly studied due to bias towards studying diurnal insects. However, knowledge concerning their biology and role as crop pollinators has increased. We review the literature on [...] Read more.
Bees are typically diurnal but around 1% of described species have nocturnal activity. Nocturnal bees are still poorly studied due to bias towards studying diurnal insects. However, knowledge concerning their biology and role as crop pollinators has increased. We review the literature on nocturnal bees’ traits and their host plants, and assess the crop pollination effectiveness of this neglected group. Nocturnal bees have visual adaptations to cope with low light intensities, and floral scents are a key sensory cue used to find their host flowers. Nocturnal bees generally show high flower constancy, the ability to vibrate flowers, and high transfer rates of pollen grains to stigmas. The flowers visited by nocturnal bees range from small radial and zygomorphic flowers to large brush blossoms; moreover, they visit plants with different flowering strategies. Nocturnal bees are effective pollinators of regional fruit crops in Brazil, such as cambuci (Campomanesia phaea), guaraná (Paullinia cupana), cajá (Spondias mombin), and in North America of cultivated pumpkins (Cucurbita species). However, they most likely are pollinators of several other crops. Strategies to host high numbers of nocturnal bees around cropping areas should be taken, such as preserving adjacent native forests, restricting soil management, providing food resources beyond crop flowers, and avoiding light pollution. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pollinator Diversity and Pollination in Agricultural Systems)
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