Seed germination of gynodioecious species: theoretical considerations and a comparison of females and hermaphrodites

Jerry M. Baskin, Carol C. Baskin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Main conclusion: Better seed germination of females than of hermaphrodites is not a major contributor to the greater geometric lifetime fitness that females require to be maintained in a gynodioecious population. Abstract: Gynodioecy is a sexually dimorphic breeding system in which females (F, male sterile) and hermaphrodites (H) coexist in the same population. For plants with nuclear (biparental) inheritance of male sterility, theory predicts that except when the product of selfing rate (s) and inbreeding depression (δ) in H is high (sδ > 0.50), F must compensate (female advantage) for the loss of gene transmission via pollen production by producing more or higher-quality offspring than H to be maintained in the population. For species with cytoplasmic (maternal) inheritance of male sterility, the female requires only a small compensation in seed production or some other offspring fitness trait to persist. Reallocation to seeds of resources saved by loss of pollen production is expected to increase the quantity (number) and/or quality (mass, germinability) of seeds produced by F, thus compensating for the lack of pollen production. The primary aim of our study was to compare seed germination of F and H via a literature review. Based on theoretical considerations, we hypothesized that seeds of F should germinate better or equally as well as those of H. We found that of 235 case studies for 47 species Fgerm > Hgerm in 48.1%, Fgerm = Hgerm in 38.3% and Fgerm < Hgerm in 13.6%. Our results are very similar to those of a previously published meta-analysis that included germination of F and H for 12 species. For 162 cases on seed size, F > H in 29.0%, F = H in 63.6% and F < H in 7.4%. Since [(Fgerm > Hgerm) < (Fgerm ≤ Hgerm)] and [(Fseedsize > Hseedsize) < (Fseedsize ≤ Hseedsize)], these results suggest that seed quality is not a major fitness component of female advantage.

Original languageEnglish
Article number73
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


  • Cytoplasmic male sterility
  • Female advantage
  • Inbreeding depression
  • Nuclear male sterility
  • Reallocation of resources
  • Seed germination
  • Seed production
  • Self-pollination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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