The Rise of the Angiosperms: A Genecological Factor

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Science  05 Oct 1979:
Vol. 206, Issue 4414, pp. 20-23
DOI: 10.1126/science.206.4414.20


In the primitive angiosperms, closed carpels are believed to have evolved as protection for ovules, which would otherwise be injured by animal pollinators. The hypothesis is presented that, whatever the origin and other functions of angiosperms, insect pollination and closed carpels may, in combination, reduce the influence of random variation on pollen tube competition, thus enhancing the ability of natural selection to act on the gametophytic phase of the life cycle. The microgametophytic phase represented by vast numbers of haploid individuals can then serve, by insect pollination and closed carpels, as a screen against any genome not functioning with a high degree of metabolic vigor. Poorly balanced genomes could thus be eliminated at relatively little cost. Insect-pollinated angiosperms would therefore benefit from positive aspects of sexual recombination. Such a system may have allowed the angiosperms to undergo their rise to dominance.

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