Evolution of habitat-dependent sex allocation in plants: superficially similar to, but intrinsically different from animals

J Evol Biol. 2006 Mar;19(2):500-12. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2005.01012.x.


Because pollen disperses and ovules do not, a basic difference in dispersal abilities of male and female gametes exists in plants. With an analytical model, we show that the combination of such sex-biased dispersal of gametes and variation of habitat quality results in two opposite selective forces acting on the evolution of sex allocation in plants: (i) a plant should overproduce pollen in good patches and overproduce ovules in poor patches in order to equilibrate secondary sex ratios of gametes after pollen dispersal; (ii) a plant should overproduce ovules in good patches and overproduce pollen in poor patches in order to increase the likelihood that its progeny establishes in good patches. Our theoretical results indicate that the evolution of habitat-dependent sex allocation should be favoured in plants, in a direction that depends on the relative dispersal ability of pollen and seeds. We also show that superficially similar predictions obtained for habitat-dependent evolutionarily stable sex allocation in animals actually result from a completely different balance between the two underlying evolutionary forces.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization
  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Environment*
  • Models, Biological
  • Plant Physiological Phenomena*
  • Plants / classification
  • Pollen / physiology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Reproduction / physiology*
  • Species Specificity