About this Research Topic
Plants have evolved an incredible diversity of strategies to optimize their sexual reproduction. The physical distance between plant male and female organs varies from hermaphroditism to biparental reproduction. The investment of resources in different sexes is also extremely diverse. For example, male gamete dispersal can be wholly aspecific, relying on the mass production of pollen to saturate the environment and maximize the chances to encounter the maximum of receptive females through wind dispersal. On the contrary, it can be explicitly mediated by a single pollinator or targeted to a single female receiver via pollen dispersal units such as pollinia. Plants have also evolved pseudo-sexual strategies such as apomixis or self-fertilization to ensure reproductive success when pollen vectors or compatible mates are scarce. The type of reproductive strategies employed are, nevertheless, believed to have profound consequences on the evolution of populations by influencing the nature and strength of the selective forces driving genome and phenotypic evolution (e.g., sexual selection or sexual conflict) while at the same time, also, conditioning the population genetic parameters that determine the efficacy of natural selection. As a result, these strategies also impact macroevolutionary processes, including the rates of speciation and extinction.
Our understanding of the mechanisms driving the evolution of reproductive strategies and of the extent to which they might influence evolutionary processes is, however, still limited. In particular, while these questions have, so far, mostly been addressed through theoretical modeling, empirical evidence remains scarce. Nevertheless, with the latest progress in genetics, genomics, and molecular biology, it is now possible to identify the evolutionary scenarios that have led to the selection of the contributing genetic variants and determine whether ‘natural experiments’ support theoretical frameworks. Thus, this Research Topic aims at gathering experts in molecular biology, genomics, theoretical evolutionary biology, population genetics or developmental biology to provide a holistic vision of the causes and consequences of reproductive strategies in plants.
Original Research, Opinions, Perspectives, Hypothesis, Reviews and Mini-Reviews related to the following topics in model and non-model organisms are welcome for submission:
• Genetic basis of reproductive strategies
• Hybridization barriers related to reproductive modes, sexual selection or sexual conflict
• Population-level studies on reproductive strategies in natural environments
• Theoretical modelling of the relationship between population fates and reproductive strategies
• Molecular mechanisms underlying shifts in reproductive strategies
• Genomic consequences of shifts in reproductive strategies
Keywords: Plant reproduction, integrative biology, mating systems, sexual selection, plant evolution
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