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In the war between the sexes, the one with the closest fungal relationship wins
Date:11/10/2009

n between the plant and mycorrhizal fungi.

In populations of D. spicata, males are found almost exclusively in habitats that have a low nutrient concentration and females are found almost exclusively in habitats with a higher nutrient concentration. The relationship between D. spicata and mycorrhizal fungi is known to have a significant effect on the health and reproduction of the grass. If D. spicata exhibits sex-specific interactions with the mycorrhizal fungi, this distribution may be due to those interactions.

Eppley and colleagues found differences in mycorrhizal colonization between males and females. Female plants were more likely to be colonized by the mycorrhizal fungi than male plants. Although some of the plants they studied had not yet reached reproductive maturity, these immature plants also showed the same pattern of sex-specific colonization.

Intersexual competition has been hypothesized to be a likely cause of the spatial segregation of the sexes in D. spicata populations. It may be that the female plants, with the assistance of mycorrhizal fungi, are able to out-compete the male plants for the coveted phosphorous-rich sites within the marsh.

"Although intersexual competition in plants has rarely been studied," said Eppley, "understanding the differences in how males and females compete is important because it is likely to play a role in the evolution of population sex ratios."


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

Page: 1 2

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