Journal Article

Siring Success and Paternal Effects in Heterodichogamous <i>Acer opalus</i>

Gabriela Gleiser, José Gabriel Segarra-Moragues, John Richard Pannell and Miguel Verdú

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 101, issue 7, pages 1017-1026
Published in print May 2008 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online March 2008 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI:
Siring Success and Paternal Effects in Heterodichogamous Acer opalus

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry


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Background and Aims

Heterodichogamy (a dimorphic breeding system comprising protandrous and protogynous individuals) is a potential starting point in the evolution of dioecy from hermaphroditism. In the genus Acer, previous work suggests that dioecy evolved from heterodichogamy through an initial spread of unisexual males. Here, the question is asked as to whether the different morphs in Acer opalus, a species in which males co-exist with heterodichogamous hermaphrodites, differ in various components of male in fitness.


Several components of male fertility were analysed. Pollination rates in the male phase were recorded across one flowering period. Pollen viability was compared among morphs through hand pollinations both with pollen from a single sexual morph and also simulating a situation of pollen competition; in the latter experiment, paternity was assessed with microsatellite markers. It was also determined whether effects of genetic relatedness between pollen donors and recipients could influence the siring success. Finally, paternal effects occurring beyond the fertilization process were tested for by measuring the height reached by seedlings with different sires over three consecutive growing seasons.

Key Results

The males and protandrous morphs had higher pollination rates than the protogynous morph, and the seedlings they sired grew taller. No differences in male fertility were found between males and protandrous individuals. Departures from random mating due to effects of genetic relatedness among sires and pollen recipients were also ruled out.


Males and protandrous individuals are probably better sires than protogynous individuals, as shown by the higher pollination rates and the differential growth of the seedlings sired by these morphs. In contrast, the fertility of males was not higher than the male fertility of the protandrous morph. While the appearance of males in sexually specialized heterodichogamous populations is possible, even in the absence of a fitness advantage, it is not clear that males can be maintained at an evolutionary equilibrium with two classes of heterodichogamous hermaphrodites.

Keywords: Acer opalus; heterodichogamy; male fertility; microsatellites; paternal effects; pollen competition; pollination rates; genetic relatedness

Journal Article.  7370 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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