Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Oilseed rape (Brassica napus) as a resource for farmland insect pollinators: quantifying floral traits in conventional varieties and breeding systems

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Geraldine Wright



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2017 The Authors. Global Change Biology Bioenergy Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Oilseed rape (OSR; Brassica napus L.) is a major crop in temperate regions and provides an important source of nutrition to many of the yield-enhancing insect flower visitors that consume floral nectar. The manipulation of mechanisms that control various crop plant traits for the benefit of pollinators has been suggested in the bid to increase food security, but little is known about inherent floral trait expression in contemporary OSR varieties or the breeding systems used in OSR breeding programmes. We studied a range of floral traits in glasshouse-grown, certified conventional varieties of winter OSR to test for variation among and within breeding systems. We measured 24-h nectar secretion rate, amount, concentration and ratio of nectar sugars per flower, and sizes and number of flowers produced per plant from 24 varieties of OSR representing open-pollinated (OP), genic male sterility (GMS) hybrid and cytoplasmic male sterility (CMS) hybrid breeding systems. Sugar concentration was consistent among and within the breeding systems; however, GMS hybrids produced more nectar and more sugar per flower than CMS hybrid or OP varieties. With the exception of ratio of fructose/glucose in OP varieties, we found that nectar traits were consistent within all the breeding systems. When scaled, GMS hybrids produced 1.73 times more nectar resource per plant than OP varieties. Nectar production and amount of nectar sugar in OSR plants were independent of number and size of flowers. Our data show that floral traits of glasshouse-grown OSR differed among breeding systems, suggesting that manipulation and enhancement of nectar rewards for insect flower visitors, including pollinators, could be included in future OSR breeding programmes.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Carruthers JM, Cook SM, Wright GA, Osborne JL, Clark SJ, Swain JL, Haughton AJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: GCB Bioenergy

Year: 2017

Volume: 9

Issue: 8

Pages: 1370-1379

Print publication date: 01/08/2017

Online publication date: 10/03/2017

Acceptance date: 18/01/2017

Date deposited: 25/07/2017

ISSN (print): 1757-1693

ISSN (electronic): 1757-1707

Publisher: Blackwell Publishing Ltd


DOI: 10.1111/gcbb.12438


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric


Funder referenceFunder name
High Wycombe Beekeepers’ Association
the Scottish Government
the Wellcome Trust