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Am J Bot. 2004 Dec;91(12):2030-40. doi: 10.3732/ajb.91.12.2030.

Architectural effects mimic floral sexual dimorphism in Solanum (Solanaceae).

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  • 1Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado 80309 USA;

Abstract

Factors underlying apparent floral sexual dimorphism were examined in six species of andromonoecious Solanum section Lasiocarpa (Solanaceae). Both multivariate and univariate analyses show that hermaphroditic flowers are significantly larger than staminate flowers for all features measured. Thus, flowers could be characterized as sexually size dimorphic. However, when size variation due to flower position (architecture) is controlled experimentally, differences between the floral genders for the nongynoecial characters disappear; there is no difference in corolla or androecium size. Staminate flowers appear to be generally smaller than hermaphroditic flowers, not because of any difference related to primary sexual function, but because they tend to occur in the distal regions of each inflorescence. In contrast, significant differences between hermaphroditic and staminate flowers for primary female traits (ovary, style, and stigma) remain after controlling for position: the two floral types are truly dimorphic for these characters. We show that consideration of architectural effects can direct and refine hypotheses concerning the evolution of andromonoecy. More generally, if architectural effects on flower size are common among taxa with unisexual flowers, then these effects may contribute to the common perception of size dimorphism in taxa with unisexual flowers.

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