ECOLOGY/EVOLUTION

Sibling Conflict Before Birth

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Science  21 Nov 2003:
Vol. 302, Issue 5649, pp. 1297
DOI: 10.1126/science.302.5649.1297b

Developing fruits commonly contribute to their own growth by photosynthesis, augmenting the nutritive supplies produced by the parental leaves. The proportion of this contribution varies greatly across plants, reaching at least 50% in some small-fruited species. Zangerl et al. have found that the rate of photosynthesis in fruits is also influenced by the paternity of the seeds. Using fluorescence imaging to quantify the efficiency of photosystem II in the developing fruits of the wild parsnip, Pastinaca sativa, they show that photosynthetic rates vary by up to 18%, depending on the identity of the pollen donor. Increased photosynthesis in the fruit tissues surrounding a seed can be expected to have a positive influence on the seed's development. Hence, seed paternity can influence the outcome of competition between sibling seeds for limited maternal resources. — AMS

Ecol. Lett. 6, 966 (2003).

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