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Plasticity in the reproductive strategy of a clonal cleistogamous species, Pseudostellaria heterophylla

Zhang, Li-Hui, Sun, Qi, Zhao, Ji-Min, Zhang, Yan-Wen
Plant ecology 2018 v.219 no.12 pp. 1493-1502
cleistogamy, flowers, fruiting, herbaceous plants, inbreeding, inbreeding depression, resource allocation, tubers
The presence of cleistogamous and chasmogamous flowers on the same plant individual is considered to represent a “mixed” reproductive strategy. If a cleistogamous species also exhibits clonal propagation, then competition for limited resources is assumed to exist among the three reproductive modes. To date, however, the relationships and interactions among cleistogamous, chasmogamous, and clonal modes of reproduction have received little attention. In this study, we performed manipulative experiments to investigate the interactions among these different types of reproduction in the perennial herbaceous plant species Pseudostellaria heterophylla. The results showed that 66.4%–87.6% of individuals produce chasmogamous flowers and that the fruiting rates of these flowers in each surveyed population were between 23.5% and 77.4%. Furthermore, we found that 8.3% of the individuals of this species show inbreeding depression. We also detected significant negative correlations between the production of chasmogamous and cleistogamous flowers and between cleistogamous flower production and root tuber mass. However, chasmogamous flower production in an individual plant was found to have little influence on its subsequent clonal propagation. We propose that the plasticity of reproductive strategies observed in P. heterophylla is due to changes in the resource pool and resource allocation.