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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

It Is Not All about Being Sweet: Differences in Floral Traits and Insect Visitation among Hybrid Carrot Cultivars

Gaffney, Ann; Bohman, Bjorn; Quarrell, Stephen R.; Brown, Philip H.; Allen, Geoff R.


Cytoplasmically male-sterile (CMS) carrot cultivars suffer from low pollination rates. In this study, insect visitation varied more than eightfold between 17 CMS carrot cultivars in a field-based cultivar evaluation trial. The visitation rates of honey bees, nectar scarabs, muscoid flies, and wasps each significantly differed among these cultivars. No significant difference in visitation rates was observed among cultivars of different CMS type (brown-anther or petaloid) or flower colour, but cultivars of Berlicumer root type had significantly higher insect visitation rates than Nantes. Six cultivars were further compared in regard to selected umbel traits: as umbel diameter increased, so did the visitation of soldier beetles, while that of honey bees decreased. Finally, nectar of these six cultivars was analysed for sugar content, which revealed monosaccharides to be the most common sugars in all. There was high variation in the levels of sugars from individual umbellets but no significant difference in nectar sugar composition among cultivars, suggesting that nectar sugar composition is of minor importance regarding pollinator attraction to hybrid CMS carrot umbels.


crop carrot; hybrid; honey bee; pollination

Published in

2020, volume: 11, number: 7, article number: 402
Publisher: MDPI

Authors' information

Gaffney, Ann
University of Tasmania
University of Western Australia
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Plant Protection Biology
Quarrell, Stephen R.
University of Tasmania
Brown, Philip H.
University of Tasmania
Allen, Geoff R.
University of Tasmania

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