Articles written in Journal of Genetics
Volume 74 Issue 1-2 April 1995 pp 25-39
Monoecious figs reward their pollinators—agaonid wasps—by allocating a proportion of the flowers for egg laying, and retain the rest for seed production. It has been suggested that these proportions could be regulated by producing short-styled and long-styled flowers such that pollinator wasps could only use the former as their ovipositor does not reach the ovules of the latter. Thus the wasps can lay eggs only in the short-styled flowers and raise their offspring, and the ovules of uninfested, long-styled flowers can develop into seeds. This implied that figs bear dimorphic female flowers, with a bimodal distribution of style length. However, recent studies have shown that style length is distributed normally, with no evidence of bimodality. Therefore the regulation of allocation of flowers to the wasps does not seem to be through the production of two distinct kinds of female flowers. In this article we suggest that two factors govern the proportion of flowers rewarded to the wasps: (i) passive regulation, which is a consequence of the optimization of wasp ovipositor length, and (ii) active regulation, where figs are selected to enhance the variance of style length. We show that these arguments lead to certain predictions about the optimum ovipositor length, the proportion of the flowers available to the wasps, and the coefficient of variation of style length. We also show that data for 18 fig-wasp associations conform well with these predictions. We finally suggest that the regulatory process outlined here can be extended to evolution of style length in dioecious fig species also.
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