Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Botany: Uneasy evolutionary balance between using and avoiding self-fertilization

Date:
October 21, 2010
Source:
University of Illinois at Chicago
Summary:
Biologists have found that the strong short-term advantages enjoyed by self-fertilizing plants can be offset by long-term advantages found in species that strictly avoid self-fertilization. The finding underscores that both individual and species characteristics can strongly shape how a group of plants evolve and diversify.

Deadly nightshade. Most flowering plants, equipped with both male and female sex organs, can fertilize themselves and procreate without the aid of a mate. But this may only present a short-term adaptive benefit, according to a team of researchers led by two University of Illinois at Chicago biologists, who report that long-term evolutionary survival of a species favors flowers that welcome pollen from another plant.
Credit: iStockphoto/Roger Whiteway

Most flowering plants, equipped with both male and female sex organs, can fertilize themselves and procreate without the aid of a mate. But this may only present a short-term adaptive benefit, according to a team of researchers led by two University of Illinois at Chicago biologists, who report that long-term evolutionary survival of a species favors flowers that welcome pollen from another plant.

"We've shown that a strong, short-term advantage experienced by individuals that have sex with themselves can be offset by long-term advantages to plant species that strictly avoid self-fertilization," says Boris Igić, UIC assistant professor of biological sciences. The result is "an apparently unending competition between these two reproductive strategies," he said, "contributing to disparities in species diversity observed among different groups of plants."

The findings are reported in the Oct. 22 issue of Science by Igić and lead author Emma Goldberg, postdoctoral research associate in biological sciences.

Their study focused on Solanaceae, the large and diverse plant family commonly known as nightshades. It includes such important crop plants as potatoes, tomatoes and tobacco. Just under half of the known nightshade species cannot self-fertilize.

Goldberg and Igić measured the long-term effects of self-fertilization, which is caused by frequent mutations and is difficult to lose once a plant acquires it. The researchers applied a mathematical model to calculate the rate of accumulation of species, also called the diversification rate.

"We found those species that avoid self-fertilization diversify faster, giving them a long-term advantage," Goldberg said.

"It's a trade-off," Igić added. "The short-term benefits of mating assurance and ability to invade a new environment are pitted against long-term advantages of greater genetic diversity, allowing plants that avoid self-fertilization to have more offspring during unpredictable environmental changes."

Avoiding self-fertilization also allows plants to more easily keep beneficial mutations and provides a degree of protection against some harmful mutations, Igić said.

The findings underscore that both individual and species characteristics can strongly shape how a group of plants evolves and diversifies.

"The ability or inability to self-fertilize is subject to forces that act strongly, and in opposite directions," Goldberg said. "The balance between these opposing forces helps explain the diversity of plants within the nightshade family, and potentially many other plant groups."

Other authors on the Science paper include Joshua Kohn of the University of California, San Diego; Russell Lande of Imperial College, London; Kelly Robertson of UIC; and Stephen Smith of the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in Durham, N.C.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Emma E. Goldberg, Joshua R. Kohn, Russell Lande, Kelly A. Robertson, Stephen A. Smith, and Boris Igic. Species Selection Maintains Self-Incompatibility. Science, 22 October 2010: 493-495 DOI: 10.1126/science.1194513

Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Chicago. "Botany: Uneasy evolutionary balance between using and avoiding self-fertilization." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 October 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101021141451.htm>.
University of Illinois at Chicago. (2010, October 21). Botany: Uneasy evolutionary balance between using and avoiding self-fertilization. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101021141451.htm
University of Illinois at Chicago. "Botany: Uneasy evolutionary balance between using and avoiding self-fertilization." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101021141451.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) — Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) — With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) — Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) — Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) 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:
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