Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Female mate choice enhances offspring fitness in an annual herb

28.06.2011
Delayed pistil receptivity may facilitate pollen competition in Collinsia

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?

Åsa 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 when there was only a few minutes of time lag between their depositions. This was also the case for pollinations that were done with a 24-hour lag between them. However, even in the latter scenario, a surprising proportion of the seeds were still sired by the second donor.

Interestingly, when a mixture of the two donors was applied once, all at the same time, simulating delayed stigma receptivity (because all the pollen start to grow toward the ovules at the same time), there was greater offspring diversity compared to two separate pollination events, one from each donor. In other words, the proportion of offspring sired by each donor was more even in the single pollination event of mixed pollen, rather than being dominated by a single donor.

Moreover, high paternal diversity was also associated with increased seed production, indicating a fitness advantage to delaying stigma receptivity.

"Our results indicate that in our study species the ability to enhance pollen competition between competing mates by delaying stigma receptivity is beneficial because it increases paternal diversity of the brood, which in turn is positively connected to number of seeds produced," Lankinen said. "Even though many studies have shown that enhanced pollen competition can be beneficial for the female reproductive function, the underlying reason for this association is not clear."

Given the benefit of delaying stigma receptivity, Lankinen notes that she and her colleagues "are puzzled by the fact that variation in timing of stigma receptivity is very large in wild populations," and concludes that it would be of interest to understand more about this trait under natural conditions.

Of additional interest is the potential occurrence of a sexual conflict over timing of stigma receptivity. "We have detected that some pollen donors can fertilize ovules ahead of others, presumably securing paternity by avoiding competition with later arriving pollen," Lankinen added. "Such early fertilization seems to be disadvantageous for the female function in terms of reduced seed set. Because our current study showed a benefit of delaying stigma receptivity, this further points to the presence of a sexual conflict."

Åsa Lankinen and Josefin A. Madjidian. (2011). Enhancing pollen competition by delaying stigma receptivity: Pollen deposition schedules affect siring ability, paternal diversity, and seed production in Collinsia heterophylla (Plantaginaceae). American Journal of Botany 98(7): 1191-1200. DOI: 10.3732/ajb.1000510

The full article in the link mentioned is available for no charge for 30 days following the date of this summary at http://www.amjbot.org/content/early/2011/06/15/ajb.1000510.full.pdf+html. After this date, reporters may contact Richard Hund at ajb@botany.org for a copy of the article.

The Botanical Society of America (www.botany.org) is a non-profit membership society with a mission to promote botany, the field of basic science dealing with the study and inquiry into the form, function, development, diversity, reproduction, evolution, and uses of plants and their interactions within the biosphere. It has published the American Journal of Botany (www.amjbot.org) for nearly 100 years. In 2009, the Special Libraries Association named the American Journal of Botany one of the Top 10 Most Influential Journals of the Century in the field of Biology and Medicine.

For further information, please contact the AJB staff at ajb@botany.org

Richard Hund | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.botany.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Could this protein protect people against coronary artery disease?
17.11.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care

nachricht Microbial resident enables beetles to feed on a leafy diet
17.11.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>