Sexually concordant selection on floral traits despite greater opportunity for selection through male fitness

Meng Hou, Øystein H. Opedal, Zhi Gang Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pollinators are important drivers of floral trait evolution, yet plant populations are not always perfectly adapted to their pollinators. Such apparent maladaptation may result from conflicting selection through male and female sexual functions in hermaphrodites. We studied sex-specific mating patterns and phenotypic selection on floral traits in Aconitum gymnandrum. After genotyping 1786 offspring, we partitioned individual fitness into sex-specific selfed and outcrossed components and estimated phenotypic selection acting through each. Relative fitness increased with increasing mate number, and more so for male function. This led to greater opportunity for selection through outcrossed male fitness, though patterns of phenotypic selection on floral traits tended to be similar, and with better support for selection through female rather than male fitness components. We detected directional selection through one or more fitness component for larger flower number, larger flowers, and more negative nectar gradients within inflorescences. Our results are consistent with Bateman's principles for sex-specific mating patterns and illustrate that, despite the expected difference in opportunity for selection, patterns of variation in selection across traits can be rather similar for the male and female sexual functions. These results shed new light on the effect of sexual selection on the evolution of floral traits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)926-936
Number of pages11
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number2
Early online date2023
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Evolutionary Biology

Free keywords

  • floral traits
  • nectar
  • plant–pollinator interactions
  • selection gradient
  • sex-specific selection


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