Summary

Sexual reproduction can be energetically expensive and wasteful because of the floral structures needed, but is usually necessary to produce offspring that are better fit because they are genetically capable of adapting to new or changing environments. To maximize the benefits of sex, plants have evolved elaborate ranges of gender expression, floral morphologies and pollination mechanisms. All of these generally facilitate the production of hybrid offspring. However, sometimes self-mating, as an extreme form of inbreeding, can be more reliable as a means of producing offspring and does allow plants to produce new offspring rapidly, even if mate choice is limited. The risk of inbreeding depression may be less than the risk of not producing offspring at all. None the less, inbreeding can pose such risks of reduced genetic variation and relative fitness in offspring that individuals may have self-incompatibility mechanisms to prevent it.

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