The heritability and genetic basis of nectar traits have been rarely studied in the field, where plants are exposed to environmental factors that could mask underlying genetic effects. Heritabilities and variance components were estimated for nectar and morphological traits of Nicotiana alata, using a partial diallel design. The main experiment was conducted in a Missouri experimental garden using a randomized block design with three plant density treatments, whereas a smaller experiment was conducted near native Brazil habitat to compare the environmental variance in traits between Missouri and Brazil. Significant heritability was detected for nectar volume and energy content, and for corolla tube length. Phenotypic correlations were significant between all traits investigated, whereas significant genetic correlations were only found between nectar volume and energy and between corolla limb width and mouth diameter. There were no significant family-by-density interactions detected in the Missouri field environment. All traits differed significantly between Missouri and Brazil environments, but significant genetic by environment (G × E) interactions between Missouri and Brazil were detected for only one trait. This study shows that nectar traits can be heritable despite considerable environmental variation.
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Vol. 62 • No. 7