My postdoctoral research aims to explore sexual selection in plants
Sexual selection can be an important mechanism driving evolution and species diversity in animals. However, less is known about whether/how sexual selection operates in sessile organisms like plants. My postdoctoral research was aimed at elucidating the mechanisms of sexual selection in plants. The work involved a new semi in vivo assay where styles (part of the female reproductive organ in plants) were pollinated, and pollen tubes (which deliver the male gamete to the female) were allowed to germinate and grow down the style toward the ovary in vivo. The pollinated styles were then removed and placed on artificial media with individually excised ovules and allowed to grow toward a particular ovule. By measuring ovule targeting vs nontargeting, I investigated the interaction between pollen tube and ovules, and assessed whether plant families differ in their mating success. Furthermore, having collected morphological variables, I explored the role of phenotypic traits in explaining this variation. This work was conducted using the model plant organism Mimulus guttatus.