Light availability affects sex lability in a gynodioecious plant

Varga, S. and Kyto viita, M.-M. (2016) Light availability affects sex lability in a gynodioecious plant. American Journal of Botany, 103 (11). pp. 1928-1936. ISSN 0002-9122

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PREMISE OF THE STUDY: Sex lability (i.e., gender diphasy) in plants is classically linked to the larger resource needs associated with the female sexual function (i.e., seed production) compared to the male function (i.e., pollen production). Sex lability in response to the environment is extensively documented in dioecious species, but has been largely overlooked in gynodioecious plants.

METHODS: Here, we tested whether environmental conditions induce sex lability in the gynodioecious Geranium sylvaticum. We conducted a transplantation experiment in the field where plants with different sex expression were reciprocally transplanted between high light and low light habitats. We measured plants’ reproductive output and sex expression over four years.

KEY RESULTS: Our results show that sex expression was labile over the study period. The light level at the destination habitat had a significant effect on sexual expression and reproductive output, because plants decreased their reproductive output when transplanted to the low light habitat. Transplantation origin did not affect any parameter measured.

CONCLUSIONS: This study shows that sex expression in Geranium sylvaticum is labile and related to light availability. Sexually labile plants did not produce more seeds or pollen, and thus, there was no apparent fitness gain in sexually labile individuals. Sex lability in gynodioecious plants may be more common than previously believed because detection of sex lability necessitates data on the same individuals over time, which is rare in sexually dimorphic herbaceous plants.

Keywords:functional gender, Geraniaceae gynodioecy, light availability, reproductive output, sex lability, sexual dimorphism, NotOAChecked
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C200 Botany
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:27988
Deposited On:11 Aug 2017 13:17

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