Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2006, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (1): 174-183.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2006.0024

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ZHANG Yu-Fen, ZHANG Da-Yong*()   

  1. Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Biodiversity Science and Ecological Engineering & Institute of Ecology,Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
  • Received:2005-01-06 Accepted:2005-07-30 Online:2006-01-06 Published:2006-01-30
  • Contact: ZHANG Da-Yong


Most plants can reproduce both sexually and vegetatively, and the balance between the two reproductive modes may vary widely between and within species. Extensive clonal growth may affect the evolution of life history traits in many ways. First, in some clonal species, sexual reproduction and recruitment are very low and drop to nil in extreme cases. Variation in sexual reproduction may strongly influence the adaptation to local environments and the evolution of the geographic range. Second, clonal growth can increase floral display, and thus pollinator attraction, while it may impose serious constraints and evolutionary challenges on plants through geitonogamy that may strongly influence pollen dispersal. Geitonogamous pollination can bring a fitness cost for the female and male function in both self-compatible and self-incompatible species. Some co-evolutionary interactions, therefore, may exist between the spatial structure and the mating behavior of clonal plants. Finally, a trade-off may exist between sexual reproduction and clonal growth. Resource allocation towards the two reproductive modes may depend on environmental conditions, competitive dominance, life span and genetic factors. If different reproductive modes are the adaptive strategies for plants in different environments, we can predict that most of the resources should be allocated towards sexual reproduction in habitats with fluctuating environmental conditions and strong competition, while clonal growth should be dominant in stable habitats. Yet we know little about the consequences of natural selection on the two reproductive modes and the underlying ecological and/or genetic factors that control the balance of the two reproductive modes. It is still unclear whether clonal growth unidirectionally determines sexual reproductive processes or whether the selection pressures arising from sexual reproductive processes leads to clonality. Few studies have investigated the reproductive strategies of clonal plants simultaneously both from sexual and asexual perspectives.

Key words: Clonal growth, Variation and loss of sex, Clonal architecture, Mating system, Trade-off