Insect herbivores drive sex allocation in angiosperm flowers

2022-10 | journal article. A publication with affiliation to the University of Göttingen.

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​Insect herbivores drive sex allocation in angiosperm flowers​
Fonseca, C. R.; Gossner, M. M.; Kollmann, J.; Brändle, M. & Paterno, G. B.​ (2022) 
Ecology Letters25(10) pp. 2177​-2188​.​ DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.14092 

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Authors
Fonseca, Carlos Roberto; Gossner, Martin M.; Kollmann, Johannes; Brändle, Martin; Paterno, Gustavo Brant
Abstract
Why sex has evolved and is maintained is an open question in evolutionary biology. The Red Queen hypothesis predicts that host lineages subjected to more intense parasite pressure should invest more in sexual reproduction to continuously create novel defences against their rapidly evolving natural enemies. In this comparative study across the angiosperms, we show that hermaphrodite plant species associated with higher species richness of insect herbivores evolved flowers with higher biomass allocation towards the male sex, an indication of their greater outcrossing effort. This pattern remained robust after controlling for key vegetative, reproductive and biogeographical traits, suggesting that long-term herbivory pressure is a key factor driving the selfing-outcrossing gradient of higher plants. Although flower evolution is frequently associated with mutualistic pollinators, our findings support the Red Queen hypothesis and suggest that insect herbivores drive the sexual strategies of flowering plants and their genetic diversity.
Issue Date
October-2022
Journal
Ecology Letters 
Organization
Fakultät für Forstwissenschaften und Waldökologie ; Burckhardt-Institut ; Abteilung Biodiversität, Makroökologie und Biogeographie 
ISSN
1461-023X
eISSN
1461-0248
Language
English

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