Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Plants With Male And Bisexual Flowers On The Same Plant Are Better Mothers

Date:
May 1, 2007
Source:
University of Chicago Press Journals
Summary:
One evolutionary enigma is the production of both male and bisexual flowers in the same plant. Field experiments with horsenettle showed that male flowers can sometimes increase seed number. The benefit may arise if resources saved by producing smaller male flowers are reallocated to increased seed production or if male flowers are more attractive to pollinators or other explanations to be tested.

Male (left) and bisexual (right) flowers in horsenettle (Solanum carolinense).
Credit: Mario Vallejo-Marin

What would be the opening chapter of the Kamasutra of plant sex? A good pick would be a description of the numerous ways in which plants arrange their sexual organs: from both sexes in the same flower to sexes separated in different flowers or individuals. One widespread sexual strategy that remains an evolutionary enigma is the production of both male and bisexual flowers in the same plant, which occurs in approximately 4000 species.

Related Articles


What is the advantage of producing these redundant male flowers? Mario Vallejo-Marin and Mark Rausher, evolutionary biologists from Duke University, report that producing male flowers can make a plant a better mother, in the May issue of the American Naturalist. The authors showed this counter-intuitive benefit of a "male" strategy through a series of field experiments with horsenettle, a common weed in North Carolina. The experimental demonstration that male flowers can sometimes increase seed number supports a new interpretation that male flowers increase not only male but also female reproductive success.

So what is the mechanism through which male flowers increase female reproductive success? Such a benefit may arise if resources saved by producing smaller male flowers are reallocated to increased seed production, if male flowers are more attractive to pollinators, or if male flowers remove less pollen from pollinators than bisexual flowers, thus increasing the amount of non-self pollen available for fruit-producing flowers.

Which one of these mechanisms is responsible for the "good mothers" in Vallejo-Marin and Rausher's study? "We don't know yet," says Mario, "but these alternatives could easily be tested through more experiments." Data from an unrelated study indicate that the female advantage of producing male flowers is not unique to horsenettle. To what extent strategies traditionally interpreted as "male" also benefit female fitness in other species remains an open and interesting question.

Mario Vallejo-Marνn and Mark D. Rausher, "Selection through female fitness helps to explain the maintenance of male flowers" American Naturalist (2007) 169:563--568. DOI: 10.1086/513112


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Chicago Press Journals. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Chicago Press Journals. "Plants With Male And Bisexual Flowers On The Same Plant Are Better Mothers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 May 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070430162621.htm>.
University of Chicago Press Journals. (2007, May 1). Plants With Male And Bisexual Flowers On The Same Plant Are Better Mothers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070430162621.htm
University of Chicago Press Journals. "Plants With Male And Bisexual Flowers On The Same Plant Are Better Mothers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070430162621.htm (accessed April 18, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Un-Bee-Lievable: Bees on the Loose After Washington Truck Crash

Un-Bee-Lievable: Bees on the Loose After Washington Truck Crash

Reuters - US Online Video (Apr. 17, 2015) — A truck carrying honey bees overturns near Lynnwood, Washington, spreading boxes of live bees across the highway. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) — Researchers found a spike in oxytocin occurs in both humans and dogs when they gaze into each other&apos;s eyes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dog Flu Spreading in Midwestern States

Dog Flu Spreading in Midwestern States

AP (Apr. 17, 2015) — Dog flu is spreading in several Midwestern states. Dog daycare centers and veterinary offices are taking precautions. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Rare Whale Spotted in Gulf of Mexico

Raw: Rare Whale Spotted in Gulf of Mexico

AP (Apr. 17, 2015) — Researchers from the E/V Nautilus had quite a surprise Tuesday, when a curious sperm whale swam around their remotely operated vehicle in the Gulf of Mexico. Cameras captured the encounter. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins