Mating consequences of contrasting hermaphroditic plant sexual systems

Caitlin E. Tomaszewski, Mason W. Kulbaba, Lawrence D. Harder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


For hermaphroditic angiosperms with multiple flowers, the sex roles can be exclusively combined in bisexual flowers (monocliny), strictly separated among different flowers (monoecy), or arrayed in mixtures of bisexual flowers with female flowers (gynomonoecy) or male flowers (andromonoecy). The hypothesized benefits favoring the evolution of these contrasting hermaphroditic sexual systems are typically examined individually, usually by assessing success through only one sex role. We tested predictions of most hypotheses experimentally with an andromonoecious species, Anticlea occidentalis (Melanthiaceae), based on the performance of intact plants (andromonoecy) and those with emasculated bisexual flowers (functionally monoecious) or emasculated male flowers (functionally monoclinous with sterile peripheral flowers). Andromonoecy in this species enables efficient, size-dependent resource allocation, emphasizing female function in large plants. Emasculation revealed that anthers in male flowers promote female mating quality (outcrossing rate and mate diversity), whereas anthers in bisexual flowers promote male mating quantity (pollen dispersal distance and probability of any siring success). Thus, different hermaphroditic sexual systems likely evolve to capitalize on suites of benefits, rather than just one, and provide compromises between quantitative and qualitative reproductive components. These compromises apparently maximize an individual's combined genetic contributions through female and male functions, rather than separate contributions through each sex role.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2114-2128
Number of pages15
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank R. Taylor and S. Zhu for field assistance and the University of Calgary, Barrier Lake Field Station for accommodation and logistic support. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada funded this research (RGPIN/107375-2012, RGPAS/429418-2012: LDH). The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Author(s). Evolution © 2018 The Society for the Study of Evolution.

Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Andromonoecy
  • angiosperm
  • hermaphrodite
  • monocliny
  • monoecy
  • sexual systems


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