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1.  Differential costs of reproduction in females and hermaphrodites in a gynodioecious plant 
Annals of Botany  2012;109(6):1159-1164.
Background and Aims
Plants exhibit a variety of reproductive systems where unisexual (females or males) morphs coexist with hermaphrodites. The maintenance of dimorphic and polymorphic reproductive systems may be problematic. For example, to coexist with hermaphrodites the females of gynodioecious species have to compensate for the lack of male function. In our study species, Geranium sylvaticum, a perennial gynodioecious herb, the relative seed fitness advantage of females varies significantly between years within populations as well as among populations. Differences in reproductive investment between females and hermaphrodites may lead to differences in future survival, growth and reproductive success, i.e. to differential costs of reproduction. Since females of this species produce more seeds, higher costs of reproduction in females than in hermaphrodites were expected. Due to the higher costs of reproduction, the yearly variation in reproductive output of females might be more pronounced than that of hermaphrodites.
Using supplemental hand-pollination of females and hermaphrodites of G. sylvaticum we examined if increased reproductive output leads to differential costs of reproduction in terms of survival, probability of flowering, and seed production in the following year.
Key Results
Experimentally increased reproductive output had differential effects on the reproduction of females and hermaphrodites. In hermaphrodites, the probability of flowering decreased significantly in the following year, whereas in females the costs were expressed in terms of decreased future seed production.
When combining the probability of flowering and seed production per plant to estimate the multiplicative change in fitness, female plants showed a 56 % and hermaphrodites showed a 39 % decrease in fitness due to experimentally increased reproduction. Therefore, in total, female plants seem to be more sensitive to the cost of reproduction in terms of seed fitness than hermaphrodites.
PMCID: PMC3336951  PMID: 22419762
Gynodioecy; pollen limitation; hand-pollination; Geranium sylvaticum; cost of reproduction; maintenance of gynodioecy; seed production
2.  The role of inbreeding and outbreeding in herbivore resistance and tolerance in Vincetoxicum hirundinaria 
Annals of Botany  2011;108(3):547-555.
Background and Aims
Inbreeding via self-fertilization may have negative effects on plant fitness (i.e. inbreeding depression). Outbreeding, or cross-fertilization between genetically dissimilar parental plants, may also disrupt local adaptation or allelic co-adaptation in the offspring and again lead to reduced plant fitness (i.e. outbreeding depression). Inbreeding and outbreeding may also increase plant vulnerability to natural enemies by altering plant quality or defence. The effects of inbreeding and outbreeding on plant size and response to herbivory in the perennial herb, Vincetoxicum hirundinaria, were investigated.
Greenhouse experiments were conducted using inbred and outbred (within- and between-population) offspring of 20 maternal plants from four different populations, quantifying plant germination, size, resistance against the specialist folivore, Abrostola asclepiadis, and tolerance of simulated defoliation.
Key Results
Selfed plants were smaller and more susceptible to damage by A. asclepiadis than outcrossed plants. However, herbivore biomass on selfed and outcrossed plants did not differ. The effects of inbreeding on plant performance and resistance did not differ among plant populations or families, and no inbreeding depression at all was found in tolerance of defoliation. Between-population outcrossing had no effect on plant performance or resistance against A. asclepiadis, indicating a lack of outbreeding depression.
Since inbreeding depression negatively affects plant size and herbivore resistance, inbreeding may modify the evolution of the interaction between V. hirundinaria and its specialist folivore. The results further suggest that herbivory may contribute to the maintenance of a mixed mating system of the host plants by selecting for outcrossing and reduced susceptibility to herbivore attack, and thus add to the growing body of evidence on the effects of inbreeding on the mating system evolution of the host plants and the dynamics of plant–herbivore interactions.
PMCID: PMC3158690  PMID: 21803741
Inbreeding depression; outbreeding depression; resistance, tolerance; Vincetoxicum hirundinaria; Abrostola asclepiadis; mating system
3.  Plant Chemistry and Local Adaptation of a Specialized Folivore 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e38225.
Local adaptation is central for creating and maintaining spatial variation in plant-herbivore interactions. Short-lived insect herbivores feeding on long-lived plants are likely to adapt to their local host plants, because of their short generation time, poor dispersal, and geographically varying selection due to variation in plant defences. In a reciprocal feeding trial, we investigated the impact of geographic variation in plant secondary chemistry of a long-lived plant, Vincetoxicum hirundinaria, on among-population variation in local adaptation of a specialist leaf-feeding herbivore, Abrostola asclepiadis. The occurrence and degree of local adaptation varied among populations. This variation correlated with qualitative and quantitative differences in plant chemistry among the plant populations. These findings provide insights into the mechanisms driving variation in local adaptation in this specialized plant-herbivore interaction.
PMCID: PMC3364215  PMID: 22666493
4.  Ecological Context of Breeding System Variation: Sex, Size and Pollination in a (Predominantly) Gynodioecious Shrub 
Annals of Botany  2007;100(7):1547-1556.
Background and Aims
Species that exhibit among-population variation in breeding system are particularly suitable to study the importance of the ecological context for the stability and evolution of gender polymorphism. Geographical variation in breeding system and sex ratio of Daphne laureola (Thymelaeaceae) was examined and their association with environmental conditions, plant and floral display sizes, and pollination environment in a broad geographic scale was analysed.
The proportion of female and hermaphrodite individuals in 38 populations within the Iberian Peninsula was scored. Average local temperature and precipitation from these sites were obtained from interpolation models based on 30 years of data. Pollination success was estimated as stigmatic pollen loads, pollen tubes per ovule and the proportion of unfertilized flowers per individual in a sub-set of hermaphroditic and gynodioecious populations.
Key Results
Daphne laureola is predominantly gynodioecious, but hermaphroditic populations were found in northeastern and southwestern regions, characterized by higher temperatures and lower annual precipitation. In the gynodioecious populations, female plants were larger and bore more flowers than hermaphrodites. However, due to their lower pollination success, females did not consistently produce more seeds than hermaphrodites, which tends to negate a seed production advantage in D. laureola females. In the northeastern hermaphroditic populations, plants were smaller and produced 9–13 times fewer flowers than in the other Iberian regions, and thus presumably had a lower level of geitonogamous self-fertilization. However, in a few southern populations hermaphroditism was not associated with small plant size and low flower production.
The findings highlight that different mechanisms, including abiotic conditions and pollinator service, may account for breeding system variation within a species' distribution range and also suggest that geitonogamy may affect plant breeding system evolution.
PMCID: PMC2759233  PMID: 17933844
Daphne laureola; environmental gradients; floral display; geographic variation; geitonogamy; gynodioecy; pollination success; sex ratio; Thymelaeaceae

Results 1-4 (4)