Journal Article

New perspectives on the evolution of plant mating systems

Jeffrey D. Karron, Christopher T. Ivey, Randall J. Mitchell, Michael R. Whitehead, Rod Peakall and Andrea L. Case

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 109, issue 3, pages 493-503
Published in print February 2012 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online December 2011 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI:
New perspectives on the evolution of plant mating systems

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

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


Show Summary Details



The remarkable diversity of mating patterns and sexual systems in flowering plants has fascinated evolutionary biologists for more than a century. Enduring questions about this topic include why sexual polymorphisms have evolved independently in over 100 plant families, and why proportions of self- and cross-fertilization often vary dramatically within and among populations. Important new insights concerning the evolutionary dynamics of plant mating systems have built upon a strong foundation of theoretical models and innovative field and laboratory experiments. However, as the pace of advancement in this field has accelerated, it has become increasingly difficult for researchers to follow developments outside their primary area of research expertise.


In this Viewpoint paper we highlight three important themes that span and integrate different subdisciplines: the changes in morphology, phenology, and physiology that accompany the transition to selfing; the evolutionary consequences of pollen pool diversity in flowering plants; and the evolutionary dynamics of sexual polymorphisms. We also highlight recent developments in molecular techniques that will facilitate more efficient and cost-effective study of mating patterns in large natural populations, research on the dynamics of pollen transport, and investigations on the genetic basis of sexual polymorphisms. This Viewpoint also serves as the introduction to a Special Issue on the Evolution of Plant Mating Systems. The 15 papers in this special issue provide inspiring examples of recent discoveries, and glimpses of exciting developments yet to come.

Keywords: Biparental inbreeding; heterostyly; mate diversity; mixed-mating system; next generation sequencing; outcrossing; paternity; phenotypic plasticity; plant breeding systems; pollination; self-fertilization; sexual polymorphism

Journal Article.  7186 words.  Illustrated.

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

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.