Consequences of Global Change for Plant Mating Systems

Mating systems organize genetic diversity within and between populations. Human activity has the potential to change the way plants mate, via alterations to the degree of habitat fragmentation, the availability of pollinators, or the abiotic climate that ultimately alters the architecture of reproductive structures.

We have made a series of discoveries that tell a cautionary tale about the response of plant populations to anthropogenic change. Although habitat fragmentation may alter the organization of genetic diversity, scientists will not be able to detect those changes until its too late. With the unparalleled loss of pollinators, we expect plants to significantly increase production of self-fertilized offspring. Zucchini plants altered their investment in male versus female function across water gradients which could dramatically alter fruit production and small farm economics. In contrast, maize plants were insensitive to water gradients.

We continue to explore the consequences of altered abiotic conditions in weed populations to understand the full extent of anthropogenically induced climate change on plant mating systems. 

%d bloggers like this: