Prolonged stigma and flower lifespan in females of the gynodioecious plant Geranium sylvaticum

Elzinga, Jelmer A. and Varga, Sandra (2017) Prolonged stigma and flower lifespan in females of the gynodioecious plant Geranium sylvaticum. Flora - Morphology, Distribution, Functional Ecology of Plants, 226 . pp. 72-81. ISSN 0367-2530

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tIn gynodioecious plants females need a reproductive advantage over hermaphrodites to be maintainedin the same population. Generally, three main proximate causes for a female advantage are considered:inbreeding avoidance, different resource allocation patterns, and differences in ecological interactions.A mechanism potentially causing a female advantage that is rarely discussed is a difference in flo-ral longevity between the genders. Females may have a longer stigma lifespan than hermaphrodites,which can affect pollination. Stigma and flower lifespan are rarely documented in gynodioecious species,although it is a common observation in dioecious species that female plants flower longer than males.Here we focus on the stigma and flower lifespan of gynodioecious Geranium sylvaticum, which couldpotentially contribute to the female advantage observed in this and other closely related species. Wemeasured the stigma and flower lifespan in unpollinated flowers of female, hermaphrodite and plantswith an intermediate gender expression. Our results show that stigma lifespan is almost twice as long infemales as in hermaphrodites and intermediate plants. Also flower lifespan is longest in females. We dis-cuss the potential mechanisms through which an increased floral lifespan can lead to a female advantagedespite the generally lower pollinator visitation rates observed in females by reviewing available studies.Our study shows that increased floral persistence in females can be an important aspect in the mainte-nance of females in gynodioecious plants and should be taken into account as a potential proximate causefor a female advantage.

Keywords:Inbreeding avoidance, Female advantage, Flower persistence, Gynodioecy, Pollen limitation, pollination
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C200 Botany
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:25280
Deposited On:30 Nov 2016 15:00

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