Can the meiotic sex ratio explain the sex ratio bias in adult populations in the dioicous moss Drepanocladus lycopodioides?
- BECC - Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate
Sex ratio variation is commonly observed in natural populations of many organisms with separate sexes and genetic sex determination, including bryophytes. Most bryophyte populations exhibit female-skewed expressed adult sex ratios, generally inferred from counts of sexually mature plants. For the rarely sexually reproducing perennial dioicous moss Drepanocladus lycopodioides, we showed that a female bias also exists in the genetic adult sex ratio, using a specifically designed molecular sex-associated marker. Here, we investigated whether the meiotic spore sex ratio contributes to the observed bias in genetic adult sex ratio in natural populations. Earlier attempts to study meiotic sex ratios have involved commonly cultivated ruderals that rapidly express sex in the laboratory. We established single-spore cultures from field-collected sporophytes from these populations and used the marker to assess the sex of individual sporelings. Spore germinability was (near) complete, and mortality among sporelings was virtually absent. The true meiotic sex ratio did not differ from equality, but strongly differed both from the observed genetic sex ratios in the natural adult populations, and from the European scale genetic sex ratio. We conclude that the biased population sex ratios in this species arise at life cycle stages after spore germination. Sexual dimorphism may selectively favour female proliferation during some phase of gametophyte development. Based on methodological progress, we successfully used a perennial study species with rare sexual reproduction, which significantly broadens the life history spectrum investigated in bryophyte sex ratio studies.
- Genetic sex ratio
- Molecular sex-targeting marker
- ISSN: 0373-6687