Intraspecific variation in sex allocation in hermaphroditic Plantago coronopus (L.)

H.P. Koelewijn, M.P.J. Hundscheid

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Models for sex allocation assume that increased expenditure of resources on male function decreases the resources available for female function. Under some circumstances, a negative genetic correlation between investment in stamens and investment in ovules or seeds is expected. Moreover, if fitness returns for investment in male and female function are different with respect to size, sex allocation theory predicts size-specific gender changes. We studied sex allocation and genetic variation for investment in stamens, ovules and seeds at both the flower and the plant level in a Dutch population of the wind-pollinated and predominantly outcrossing Plantago coronopus. Data on biomass of floral structures, stamens, ovules, seedset and seedweight were used to calculate the average proportion of reproductive allocation invested in male function. Genetic variation and (genetic) correlations were estimated from the greenhouse-grown progeny of maternal families, raised at two nutrient levels. The proportion of reproductive biomass invested in male function was high at flowering (0.86 at both nutrient levels) and much lower at fruiting (0.30 and 0.40 for the high and low nutrient treatment, respectively). Androecium and gynoecium mass exhibited moderately high levels of genetic variance, with broad-sense heritabilities varying from 0.35 to 0.56. For seedweight no genetic variation was detected. Significant among-family variation was also detected for the proportion of resources invested in male function at flowering, but not at fruiting. Phenotypic and broad-sense genetic correlations between androecium and gynoecium mass were positive. Even after adjusting for plant size, as a measure of resource acquisition, maternal families that invested more biomass in the androecium also invested more in the gynoecium. This is consistent with the hypothesis that genetic variation for resource acquisition may in part be responsible for the overall lack of a negative correlation between male and female function. Larger plants had a more female-biased allocation pattern, brought about by an increase in seedset and seedweight, whereas stamen biomass did not differ between small and large plants. These results are discussed in relation to size-dependent sex allocation theory (SDS). Our results indicate that the studied population harboured substantial genetic variation for reproductive characters. [KEYWORDS: Plantago coronopus; reproductive characters; sex allocation; size-specific gender; trade-off Female functions; gender variation; male-sterility; reproductive characters; ipomopsis-aggregata; pearl-millet; life-history; size; resources; genetics]
Originele taal-2Engels
Pagina's (van-tot)302-315
TijdschriftJournal of Evolutionary Biology
Nummer van het tijdschrift2
StatusGepubliceerd - 2000


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