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Female mate choice enhances offspring fitness in an annual herb
Date:6/27/2011

In many organisms females directly or indirectly select mates (or sperm) and potentially influence the fitness of their offspring. Mate choice and sexual selection in plants is more complex in some ways than in animals because plants are sessile organisms and often have to rely on external vectors, such as animals, for pollen transport. As such, there is only so much a plant can do to affect the timing of pollen arrival, or the size and diversity of deposited pollen. But can a plant control which pollen grains, of the hundreds that land on their stigmas, make it to the ovules?

sa Lankinen from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, whose research focuses on mate choice and sexual selection in plants, teamed up with Josefin Madjidian from Lund University, Sweden, to see if they could determine whether a mechanism that plants may use to exert female choice was delayed stigma receptivity in the pistil (the female part of the flower). Delaying receptivity to pollen grains may affect aspects of pollen competition such as siring ability, paternal diversity, and offspring fitness. Their study can be found online in the July issue of the American Journal of Botany (http://www.amjbot.org/content/early/2011/06/15/ajb.1000510.full.pdf+html).

"Our study contributes to our general understanding of how and why plants choose their mates when pollen arrive repeatedly to the stigma over a period of time," said Lankinen.

Lankinen and Madjidian hand-pollinated flowers of an annual herb, Collinsia heterophylla (Plataginaceae), in a controlled greenhouse setting in a series of crosses that simulated delayed stigma receptivity.

The authors found that when stigmas were receptive, pollination arrival sequence was important: pollen from the donor that was applied first sired more offspring (up to 74%) than the second donor, even wh
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Contact: Richard Hund
rhund@botany.org
314-577-9557
American Journal of Botany
Source:Eurekalert  

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