Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Battle of the sexes exists in the plant world, too

Date:
June 28, 2010
Source:
University of Bath
Summary:
Researchers have shown for the first time that in plants, fathers, as well as mothers, can influence the size of seeds. Their findings could open new avenues to increase crop yields and improve food security for an ever-growing global human population.

Research led by the University of Bath has discovered that plants, like animals, also have a battle of the sexes when it comes to raising their offspring.

Their findings could open new avenues to increase crop yields and improve food security for an ever-growing global human population.

Since mothers give birth to young, they must invest more of their resources into producing offspring than fathers.

For mothers, it's a balance between giving enough resources to keep their babies healthy, but still making as many babies as they can. In contrast, it benefits fathers to have young that are as large as possible and more likely to survive.

The researchers, from the Universities of Bath, Exeter and the Albrecht von Haller Institute for Plant Sciences in Germany, have now shown that this parental struggle also exists in plants.

The study, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), and published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, shows for the first time that male plants can influence the size of seeds.

Using the model plant Arabidopsis, they bred female plants with a variety of different male plants and measured the size of seeds produced with each pairing.

They found that crossing the female plant with a specific strain, or genotype, of male plant produced bigger seeds, allowing the father to have more healthy offspring at the cost of the mother.

Dr Paula Kover, Senior Lecturer at the University of Bath, explained: "Seed size can make a huge difference to whether a seedling is likely to survive, so you would imagine that there would be an optimum seed size for mothers to produce, balancing the likelihood of survival with the cost in energy of producing them.

"However, we see a lot of variation in seed size. The reason for this is a long-standing debate.

"Previously it was thought that seed size was controlled solely by the mother's genes, but for the first time we've shown clearly that genes passed on from the father plant can also have an effect on seed size.

"The next step will be to identify the specific genes that influence seed size. Previously plant breeders only considered the mother's genes in the breeding process, so this study could open the door on a whole new group of genes that could increase crop yield."

Dr Clarissa House, from the University of Exeter, added: "Relatively few studies have been able to distinguish between the influence of paternal genotypes for offspring fitness and maternal effects. Our study clearly shows that paternal genes are important."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. C. House, C. Roth, J. Hunt, P. X. Kover. Paternal effects in Arabidopsis indicate that offspring can influence their own size. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2010; DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2010.0572

Cite This Page:

University of Bath. "Battle of the sexes exists in the plant world, too." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 June 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100622074828.htm>.
University of Bath. (2010, June 28). Battle of the sexes exists in the plant world, too. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100622074828.htm
University of Bath. "Battle of the sexes exists in the plant world, too." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100622074828.htm (accessed September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) The study weighs in on a debate over whether chimps are naturally violent or become that way due to human interference in the environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
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:
from the past week

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