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Mol Ecol. 2014 Jun;23(12):2914-28. doi: 10.1111/mec.12791.

Clonal genetic structure and diversity in populations of an aquatic plant with combined vs. separate sexes.

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto, 25 Willcocks Street, Toronto, ON, M5S 3B2, Canada.


Clonality is often implicated in models of the evolution of dioecy, but few studies have explicitly compared clonal structure between plant sexual systems, or between the sexes in dioecious populations. Here, we exploit the occurrence of monoecy and dioecy in clonal Sagittaria latifola (Alismataceae) to evaluate two main hypotheses: (i) clone sizes are smaller in monoecious than dioecious populations, because of constraints imposed on clone size by costs associated with geitonogamy; (ii) in dioecious populations, male clones are larger and flower more often than female clones because of sex-differential reproductive costs. Differences in clone size and flowering could result in discordance between ramet- and genet-based sex ratios. We used spatially explicit sampling to address these hypotheses in 10 monoecious and 11 dioecious populations of S. latifolia at the northern range limit in Eastern North America. In contrast to our predictions, monoecious clones were significantly larger than dioecious clones, probably due to their higher rates of vegetative growth and corm production, and in dioecious populations, there was no difference in clone size between females and males; ramet- and genet-based sex ratios were therefore highly correlated. Genotypic diversity declined with latitude for both sexual systems, but monoecious populations exhibited lower genotypic richness. Differences in life history between the sexual systems of S. latifolia appear to be the most important determinants of clonal structure and diversity.


Sagittaria latifolia; clonality; dioecy; monoecy; population structure; range limits

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