Research

 

Sexual selection processes builds on anisogamy – differences between sexes in resource investment per gametes – with females producing larger and less numerous gametes than males, which becomes a rare resource for which males enter into competition for. Predictions from the sexual selection theory should thus encompass all sexually reproducing organisms and include plants. Despite the general agreement that sexual selection applies to plants, this research has remained disconnected from empirical studies in animals and the lack of estimation of metrics directly connected to sexual selection thinking has prevented a formal test of sexual selection theory in plants so far. Current research projects involve:

pistil
Pollen tubes interacting with pistil tissues

(1) the test of key predictions of sexual selection thinking:

Bateman principles, evolution of male competitive traits in polygamy, evolution of female cryptic choice through Fisherian or good-genes processes during the physical interaction between pollen and pistils.
Methods: manipulation of the strength of sexual selection through experimental evolution, paternity analyses, quantitative genetics, proteomics
Marked bumblebee forging on a plant

(2) the study of the operation of sexual selection through the action of pollinators:

how pollinator movements, behaviours, and their interaction at varying densities mediates sexual selection, and what is the balance between selection for access to sexual partners versus access for ovules.
Methods: pollinator-tracking, paternity analyses, experimental evolution
Scent acquisition of plants following environmental stimuli

(3) the test of hypotheses regarding plant’s ability to perceive and respond to the intensity of sexual selection.

Methods: plant phenotyping, scent analyses, paternity analyses