• Pollen-tube growth;
  • seed set;
  • maternal fitness;
  • paternal fitness;
  • life-history traits;
  • sexual resource allocation

Circumstantial evidence suggests that plants that have evolved metal tolerance are at a disadvantage on normal soil, i.e. there is a cost of tolerance. One hypothesis for the cause of this cost is that individuals have a greater requirement for copper, and so suffer micronutrient deficiency on normal soils, as a result of a reduced uptake, distribution and/or utilization of copper. We provided highly and less copper-tolerant plants of Mimulus guttatus Fischer ex DC. (the common monkey flower) with sub-optimal copper, and demonstrated the importance of copper as an essential micronutrient during the reproductive phase, both in the production of viable pollen and in seed set. We also looked at the effect of sub-optimal copper supply on the growth of the microgametophyte, and the efficiency with which seed was set. No evidence was found that highly tolerant plants have an increased copper requirement during the reproductive phase. This is in agreement with earlier work on Mimulus guttatus, which investigated the copper requirement of highly tolerant plants during vegetative growth and found that any differences in copper requirement were small. The ‘metal requirement hypothesis’ is, therefore, not the sole explanation for the cost of copper tolerance in M. guttatus.