Faculté des sciences

Seed paternity in flowering plants: an evolutionary perspective

Bernasconi, Giorgina

In: Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, 2003, vol. 6, no. 3, p. 149-158

The ultimate importance of paternal contributions to fitness and of post-pollination selection in flowering plants have remained elusive, largely because of the technical difficulty of assigning paternity. I review empirical studies that use heritable markers to investigate per-fruit seed paternity in natural populations and after experimental multiple-donor pollination. Thirty-one studies... Plus

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    Summary
    The ultimate importance of paternal contributions to fitness and of post-pollination selection in flowering plants have remained elusive, largely because of the technical difficulty of assigning paternity. I review empirical studies that use heritable markers to investigate per-fruit seed paternity in natural populations and after experimental multiple-donor pollination. Thirty-one studies covering 23 species from 16 plant families document that in natural populations seeds from a single fruit are often fathered by multiple pollen donors (5 species from 5 families), that donors can differ significantly in seed-siring success (8 species from 6 families), that variation in pollen tube growth rates can be heritable (n = 1 out of 4 studies), that donor and recipient genotypes can simultaneously affect paternity (n = 2), and that temporal order of pollen deposition (n = 1) and environmental effects(n = 2) affect the outcome of pollen competition. These studies also investigate the role of post-pollination selection in the avoidance of inbreeding and for species boundaries. Most studies of male reproductive success in plants to date base on isozyme electrophoresis. The availability in the last decade of highly polymorphic molecular markers such as microsatellite DNA has been expected to open new possibilities to investigate competition and selection during the gametophytic phase. Yet, to date, there is still need for greater data wealth on seed paternity to test theories of sex allocation and to gain deeper understanding of floral trait evolution and of the evolutionary consequences of post-pollination selection in flowering plants.