Impacts of floral gender and whole-plant gender on floral evolution in Ecballium elaterium (Cucurbitaceae).

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26 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Investigation of gender specialization in plants has led to several theories on the evolution of sexual dimorphism: reproductive compensation, based on enhanced reproductive efficiency with gender specialization (flowers should be larger on dioecious plants); Bateman's Principle, based on sex-specific selection (display for pollinator attraction in males and seed set in females); and intersexual floral mimicry, based on mimicry of a reward-providing gender by a non-reward providing gender (reduced dimorphism in dioecious plants due to increased spatial separation of male and female flowers). These theories were evaluated in Ecballium elaterium, which contains two subspecies, elaterium (monoecious) and dioicum (dioecious). Our results show that flowers of the dioecious subspecies are larger and allocate more to reproductive organs than do flowers of the monoecious subspecies. Both subspecies are sexually dimorphic (male flowers larger than female flowers). Variance in flower size among populations is greater in the dioecious subspecies. Finally, there is sufficient genetic variation to enable ongoing response to selection; genetic correlation constraints on independent response of female and male flowers may be stronger in the monoecious subspecies. Our findings provide support for aspects of all three theories, suggesting that the evolution of floral dimorphism is based on a complex interplay of factors. (C) 2001 The Linnean Society of London.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-487
Number of pages13
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Volume74
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2001

Keywords

  • monoecy
  • dioecy
  • Bateman's Principle
  • sexual dimorphism
  • reproductive compensation
  • deceit pollination
  • Cucurbitaceae
  • Mediterranean flora
  • SEX-ALLOCATION
  • QUANTITATIVE GENETICS
  • REPRODUCTIVE-BIOLOGY
  • UNISEXUAL FLOWERS
  • MONOECIOUS HERB
  • FEMALE FLOWERS
  • POLLINATION
  • SUCCESS
  • SELECTION
  • DIOECY

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