Pollinator sharing in dioecious figs (Ficus: Moraceae)

Annika M. Moe, Daniel R. Rossi, George D. Weiblen

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38 Scopus citations


As one of the most specialized pollination syndromes, the fig (Ficus)-fig wasp (Agaonidae) mutualism can shed light on how pollinator behaviour and specificity affect plant diversification through processes such as reproductive isolation and hybridization. Pollinator sharing among species has important implications for Ficus species delimitation and the evolutionary history of the mutualism. Although agaonid wasp pollinators are known to visit more than one host species in monoecious figs, pollinator sharing has yet to be documented in dioecious figs. The present study investigated the frequency of pollinator sharing among sympatric, closely-related dioecious figs in Ficus sections Sycocarpus and Sycidium. Molecular and morphological species identification established the associations between pollinating agaonid wasp species and host fig species. Cytochrome oxidase I was sequenced from 372 Ceratosolen pollinators of Ficus section Sycocarpus and 210 Kradibia pollinators of Ficus section Sycidium. The association between fig species and morphologically distinct clades of pollinator haplotypes was predominantly one-to-one. In Ceratosolen, six of 372 pollinators (1.5%) visited fig species other than the predominant host. No pollinator sharing was detected between the two Sycidium host species, although a rare hybrid shared Kradibia pollinators with both parental species. These findings point to low rates of pollinator sharing among closely-related dioecious fig species in sympatry, and perhaps lower rates than among monoecious figs. Such rare events could be evolutionarily important as mechanisms for gene flow among fig species. Differences in rates of pollinator sharing among fig lineages might explain the conflicting phylogenetic patterns inferred among monoecious figs, dioecious figs, and their respective pollinators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)546-558
Number of pages13
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2011


  • Agaonid wasps
  • Ceratosolen
  • Cytochrome oxidase I
  • Kradibia
  • Reproductive isolation
  • Specificity


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