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How does a plant survive with few mates or pollinators? A European herb has figured out its own way
Date:11/10/2011

indicating that when pollinators were scarce, plants were able to augment seed production via autonomous self-pollinationa good back-up plan that potentially ensures a constant seed set despite varying environmental variables.

"Our study is one of the first that clearly reveals that delayed selfing in this hoverfly-pollinated short-lived herb confers reproductive assurance and thus functions as a perfect back-up strategy to rely on in unpredictable pollination environmentswhen populations become small and/or pollinator limited," comments Brys.

"Another remarkable finding," he adds, "is that we were able to show that under these variable pollination environments this mode of autonomous selfing guarantees constant seed set overall."

Indeed, delayed selfing seems to be the perfect solution for this species, which is often found in transient habitats in which population size and pollinators may vary tremendously.

Brys and colleagues now want to delve a little deeper and investigate whether this system of mixed mating represents a stable mating strategy or is just a transient phase towards an obligate selfing or outcrossing mating strategy. "We are also investigating which floral traits may cause variation in the ability to provide reproductive assurance and consequently function as a target of selection," Brys said, "given the observation that the species shows relatively high and variable levels of inbreeding depression."


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Contact: Richard Hund
rhund@botany.org
314-577-9557
American Journal of Botany
Source:Eurekalert  

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How does a plant survive with few mates or pollinators?  A European herb has figured out its own way
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