Evol Ecol Res 10: 147-152 (2008)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

The genetic correlation between flower size and water use efficiency in monkeyflowers

John K. Kelly,* Liza M. Holeski# and H.S. Arathi‡

Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas, 1200 Sunnyside Avenue, Lawrence, KS 66045-7534, USA

Author to whom all correspondence should be addressed.
e-mail: jkk@ku.edu


Question: Does water loss during drought stress represent an important physiological constraint on the evolution of flower size?

Organism: A genetically diverse population of Mimulus guttatus (yellow monkeyflower) originally sampled from an alpine meadow in Oregon, USA.

Methods: We grew plants of three different genotypic classes (small, medium, and large flowered) under both well-watered and drought-stress conditions and measured water use efficiency using stable carbon isotopes.

Results: There was no difference in water use efficiency among flower size genotypes under well-watered conditions, but the water use efficiency of small-flowered plants was substantially lower than that of medium or large genotypes under drought stress. Whether this paradoxical result is a direct effect of flower size or an indirect (i.e. pleiotropic) effect, the presence of a genetic correlation between floral and physiological traits indicates that selection of one does impact the other.

Keywords: carbon isotopes, drought, genetic correlations, Mimulus guttatus, water use efficiency.

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