Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sex Life Of Plants Reveals Conflicts Between The Sexes

Date:
May 16, 2009
Source:
Vetenskapsrådet (The Swedish Research Council)
Summary:
The pollen grains of male plants live in great competition. A grain of pollen that succeeds in manipulating the flower's pistil can emerge victorious from the struggle, according to new research from Sweden.

Collinsia heterophylla at Blue Sky Ecological Reserve in Poway, California.
Credit: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The pollen grains of male plants live in great competition. A grain of pollen that succeeds in manipulating the flower’s pistil can emerge victorious from the struggle. This is shown by new research from Lund University in Sweden.

Related Articles


Associate Professor Åsa Lankinen and doctoral candidate Josefin Madjidian work at the Division of Plant Ecology at Lund University. They are studying sexual conflicts and pollen competition among plants. Their research shows that conflicts between the sexes do arise.

“We have shown that some grains of pollen can influence the pistil in ways that give an advantage. But at the same time this strategy is to the detriment of the plant,” says Åsa Lankinen.

When pollen grains from different individuals land on the surface of a pistil, competition arises over which pollen grains will have the opportunity to fertilize the ovule in the pistil. This ovule is hidden at the very bottom of the pistil. Pollen grains need to have a pollen tube that can quickly penetrate the surface of the pistil and grow down to the ovule.

Lankinen and Madjidian have examined a North American flower plant called Collinisa heterophylla.  Normally, pollen grains in this species sit and wait on the pistil for several days before the pistil surface can be penetrated. However, research shows that some pollen grains can influence the surface in a way that allows their own pollen tubes to successfully penetrate the pistil ahead of other pollen tubes. This means that they can be the first to reach the ovule in the pistil.

This manipulation on the part of the pollen grain constitutes an advantage for the individual pollen grain, but at the same time it has a negative effect on the total number of seeds that are formed. It might be said that the pistil marshals countermeasures to try to prevent this manipulation, which can lead to an arms race between the sexes. This research study offers indirect evidence of such a race, but the researchers are not yet in a position to say exactly what it looks like.

“It can be difficult to discover sexual conflicts such as these and to pinpoint the properties that are involved. Generally speaking, female plants can affect pollen competition by developing longer pistils or larger receptive area of the pistil, for example, but here we would guess that the explanation has to do with how the chemistry of the pistil influences pollen,” says Åsa Lankinen.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Vetenskapsrådet (The Swedish Research Council). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Josefin A. Madjidian, Åsa Lankinen. Sexual Conflict and Sexually Antagonistic Coevolution in an Annual Plant. PLoS ONE, 2009; 4 (5): e5477 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0005477

Cite This Page:

Vetenskapsrådet (The Swedish Research Council). "Sex Life Of Plants Reveals Conflicts Between The Sexes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 May 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090508045726.htm>.
Vetenskapsrådet (The Swedish Research Council). (2009, May 16). Sex Life Of Plants Reveals Conflicts Between The Sexes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090508045726.htm
Vetenskapsrådet (The Swedish Research Council). "Sex Life Of Plants Reveals Conflicts Between The Sexes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090508045726.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) — Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) — Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) — One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) — Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
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