School of Science
Research and postdoctoral fellowships to MP and DLF were funded by a Discovery Grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada to SCHB. GP received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Grant Agreement no. 665385.
Understanding the mechanisms causing phenotypic differences between females and males has long fascinated evolutionary biologists. An extensive literature exists on animal sexual dimorphism but less information is known about sex differences in plants, particularly the extent of geographical variation in sexual dimorphism and its life‐cycle dynamics.
Here, we investigated patterns of genetically based sexual dimorphism in vegetative and reproductive traits of a wind‐pollinated dioecious plant, Rumex hastatulus, across three life‐cycle stages using open‐pollinated families from 30 populations spanning the geographic range and chromosomal variation (XY and XY1Y2) of the species.
The direction and degree of sexual dimorphism was highly variable among populations and life‐cycle stages. Sex‐specific differences in reproductive function explained a significant amount of temporal change in sexual dimorphism. For several traits, geographical variation in sexual dimorphism was associated with bioclimatic parameters, likely due to the differential responses of the sexes to climate. We found no systematic differences in sexual dimorphism between chromosome races.
Sex‐specific trait differences in dioecious plants largely result from a balance between sexual and natural selection on resource allocation. Our results indicate that abiotic factors associated with geographical context also play a role in modifying sexual dimorphism during the plant life‐cycle.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.