How sexual selection and sexual conflict shape plant reproduction and hybridization barriers
Clément Lafon Placette
(The Plant Reproduction Evolution Lab, Department of Botany, Charles University)
The existence of sexual selection and sexual conflict in plants is rather a counterintuitive if not provocative idea, as these processes are mostly cryptic. Yet, they may play a major role in plant reproduction evolution and plant speciation. Plants are a unique system to study such a role: their mating mode can vary from multiple mating to exclusive selfing (mating with oneself), which influences the intensity of sexual selection and conflict. Taking advantage of this feature, my newly established research group tests whether sexual selection and sexual conflict can drive the evolution of plant reproduction and ultimately establish hybridization barriers in plants, namely speciation, via the divergent evolution of reproductive traits and related genes. This goal is achieved by testing whether sexual selection is involved in plant reproduction microevolution, comparing systems where sexual selection is expected to be strong vs others where sexual selection is expected to be relaxed. Screening for natural variation in male-male competitive ability vs female cryptic choice will be an alternative way to detect the effect of sexual selection in plant reproduction evolution. In parallel, we test whether such trait and genomic divergence is responsible for hybridization barriers related to mating behavior (outcompeting pollen or pollen rejection due to divergent male competitive abilities and/or female cryptic choice) or postzygotic traits (hybrid seed lethality due to divergent endosperm resource drive).
CV of the speaker HERE.
Invitation to the talk HERE.