Optimal Sex Allocation in Plants and the Evolution of Monoecy
Question: Which ecological factors favor the transition from plants with hermaphrodite flowers to monoecious plants with separate male and female flowers on the same individual? Mathematical methods: ESS computation in sex allocation models Key assumptions: Within a flower, costs of attraction, pollen production, style/ovary and fruit with seeds are assumed fixed. Often costs of fruit with seeds outweigh other costs. Female flowers produce more seeds than hermaphrodite flowers, due to less pollen-stigma interference. Conclusions: When sex allocation is female-biased at the flower level, plants respond by producing either male flowers or flowers without fruit. Hermaphroditism evolves to andromonoecy (male and hermaphrodite flowers on the same plant) and then to monoecy. In species with large fruits, sex allocation is female-biased at the flower level and the production of male flowers is favored. This facilitates the production of female flowers. The alternative route via gynomonoecy (female and hermaphrodite flowers on the same plant) is improbable since it requires unrealistically high levels of seed production in female flowers. Monoecious species are likely to have: (i) small, inexpensive flowers, (ii) large, costly fruits and seeds, and (iii) high fertilization rates.
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