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Keywords:

  • functional dioecy;
  • heterostyly;
  • male and female fitness

Abstract

The evolution of dioecy from a monomorphic hermaphroditic condition requires two mutations, one producing females and one producing males. Conversely, a single mutation sterilizing one sexual function in one morph of distylous species would result in functional dioecy because such a mutation also affects the complementary function in the other morph. In this study, we tested these ideas with Erythroxylum havanense, a distylous species with morph-biased male sterility. Based on sex allocation theory we evaluated whether the invasion of thrum females is favoured over the maintenance of this morph cosexuals. Completely male sterile thrum plants obtained higher fitness returns than hermaphrodites or partial male sterile individuals of the same morph, thus favouring the invasion of female thrum plants. We concluded that because fruit production of pin individuals depends on the pollen produced by thrum plants, the invasion of thrum females would result on the evolution of functional dioecy.