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The Cost of Meristem Limitation in Polygonum arenastrum: Negative Genetic Correlations between Fecundity and Growth

Monica A. Geber
Evolution
Vol. 44, No. 4 (Jul., 1990), pp. 799-819
DOI: 10.2307/2409547
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2409547
Page Count: 21
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Cost of Meristem Limitation in Polygonum arenastrum: Negative Genetic Correlations between Fecundity and Growth
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Abstract

Growth and reproduction in higher plants depend on meristems, which have three developmental fates. A meristem can become reproductive, but doing so terminates its activity, it can differentiate vegetatively, or it can remain quiescent for extended periods. The first two fates are mutually exclusive, and only the second leads to the production of additional meristems for subsequent growth and reproduction. In Polygonum arenastrum (frequently referred to as P. aviculare in North American Floras), an annual species lacking quiescent meristems, a quantitative genetic analysis of inbred full-sibling families revealed genetic variation in the developmental pattern of axillary meristem commitment to vegetative growth versus reproduction. Developmental variation resulted in family differences in the age of first reproduction, in age-specific fecundity and growth, and in final plant size and reproductive output. Furthermore, there were strong negative genetic correlations between age-specific growth and fecundity. Early commitment of meristems to reproduction favors high early fecundity, but reduces the number of meristems available for vegetative differentiation, and leads to lowered growth rates and fecundity later in life, when meristems are limiting. Conversely, meristem commitment to vegetative growth early in life results in low early fecundity but high late fecundity and growth. Meristem limitation, like resource limitation, is a proximate mechanism that generates trade-offs between life history traits. Differences between meristem limitation and resource limitation are discussed. Meristem limitation leads automatically to a senescent life history because of the determinate fate of reproductive meristems. Developmental characters were also found to be genetically correlated with metamer characters (leaf size, internode length) and seed size in this selfing species. The pattern of correlation is suggestive of selection for particular suites of life history and morphological characters.

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