Maternal effects on seed heteromorphism: A dual dynamic bet hedging strategy

Li Jiang, Lei Wang, Carol C. Baskin, Changyan Tian, Zhenying Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Maternal effects on offspring seeds are mainly caused by seed position on, and the abiotic environment of, the mother plant. Seed heteromorphism, a special form of position effect, is the production by an individual plant of morphologically distinct seed types, usually with different ecological behaviours. Seed heteromorphism is assumed to be a form of bet hedging and provides an ideal biological model to test theoretical predictions. Most studies of maternal effects on seeds have focused on abiotic environmental factors and changes in mean seed traits of offspring. Suaeda salsa is an annual halophyte that produces dimorphic seeds within the same inflorescence. We tested the hypothesis that plants grown from brown seeds of S. salsa have a higher offspring brown seed:black seed morph ratio and variance in seed size than plants from black seeds. Results from a pot experiment showed that plants grown from brown seeds had a higher brown seed:black seed ratio than plants grown from black seeds. This is the first layer of dynamic bet hedging. Brown seeds had higher size variation than black seeds, and seeds produced by plants from brown seeds also had higher seed size variation than plants grown from black seeds. This is the second layer of dynamic bet hedging. Thus, the maternal effect of seed heteromorphism is dual dynamic bet hedging. Furthermore, for seed traits we verified for the first time the theoretical prediction that an increase in offspring size variability induces an increase in the mean size of offspring.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-153
Number of pages5
JournalSeed Science Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31770451) and Foundation for Western Young Scholars, Chinese Academy of Sciences (2017-XBQNXZ-A-001).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Cambridge University Press.


  • Suaeda
  • bet hedging
  • maternal effect
  • seed heteromorphism
  • seed size

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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