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Pollen vigour and the potential for sexual selection in plants

Naturevolume 352pages796797 (1991) | Download Citation

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Abstract

DISCOVERING whether paternal fecundity varies within popula-tions is crucial for evaluating whether male-male competition and/or female choice can lead to sexual selection1–3. In natural populations of plants, pollinators often deposit mixtures of 'surplus' pollen from several individuals onto receptive stigmas4–7. Therefore within-flower competition among pollen-tubes for ovules could lead to nonrandom paternal success. We found that pollen competition was common in populations of wild rose mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos). Co-occurring individuals often differed in mean pollen-tube growth rates, and this trait was correlated with the number of seeds the plants sired when pollen mixtures were applied to stigmas. Differences between pairs of individuals in pollen-tube growth rates were consistent across maternal plants, suggesting that sexual selection can occur. This unexpected varia-tion in pollen vigour could lead to nonrandom fertilization whenever pollen-tubes compete for access to ovules.

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Affiliations

  1. Department of Plant Biology, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, 43210-1293, USA

    • Allison A. Snow
  2. Biology Department, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, Georgia, 30460, USA

    • Timothy P. Spira
  3. the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, PO Box 28, Edgewater, Maryland, 21037, USA

    • Timothy P. Spira

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https://doi.org/10.1038/352796a0

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