T-ERC_STG - Tremplin-ERC Starting

The scope for sexual selection in plants – SEXIPLANTS

Submission summary

The SEXIPLANTS project aims at providing a comprehensive empirical test for plants of the sexual selection theory, and decipher the mechanisms underlying sexual selection in plants.

Sexual selection, acting through competition for the access to mates and their gametes, successfully explained numerous
reproductive strategies in animals. Sexual selection typically emerges when females produce fewer numbers of larger gametes than
males – a situation called anisogamy – which fosters competition among males for accessing the rare ovules. Sexual selection theory should thus be universally valid for all sexually reproducing anisogamous organisms encompassing plants. While the idea that sexual selection acts on plants is largely admitted, most predictions of the sexual selection theory remain untested in the plant kingdom.

With a multi-method approach, including experimental evolution in the hermaphroditic plant Brassica rapa and comparative analyses in angiosperms, the SEXIPLANTS project asks:

Q1. Testing the theory.
Are fundamental predictions of sexual selection theory valid in the plant kingdom?
We will empirically test key predictions of sexual selection theory regarding both male-male competition and female choice processes, and their demographical and genetic consequences.

Q2. Specificity.
Does the action of pollinators introduces specificity in the operation of sexual selection?
We will empirically test how pollinator behaviour and density can alter sexual selection.

Q3. Perception.
Can plants perceive and respond to variation in their mating opportunities?
We will empirically test whether plants can plastically adjust the reproductive strategies to variation in competition for access to

SEXIPLANTS will contribute to the development of a uniform and integrative theory of sexual selection valid for sexually-reproducing organisms including plants, and potentially reform our conceptual understanding of plant reproduction, with implications for conservation.

Project coordination

Jeanne Tonnabel (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) - Délégation Régionale Occitanie Est)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


CNRS DR 13 Occitanie Est Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) - Délégation Régionale Occitanie Est

Help of the ANR 52,018 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: February 2023 - 24 Months

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