The existence of genetic variation in offspring size in plants and animals is puzzling because offspring size is often strongly associated with fitness and expected to be under stabilizing selection. An explanation for variation in seed size is conflict between parents and between parents and offspring. However, for this hypothesis to be true, it must be shown that the offspring genotype can affect its own size. The existence of paternal effects would support this hypothesis, but these have rarely been shown. Using a diallel cross among four natural accessions of Arabidopsis thaliana we show that maternal, paternal and positional effects jointly influence seed size, number and the frequency of seed abortion. We found that seed abortion (%) depends on the combination of maternal and paternal genotypes, suggesting the existence of mate choice or epistatic incompatibility among accessions of A. thaliana. In addition, since paternal genotype explains approximately 10 per cent of the variation in seed size, we propose that A. thaliana's offspring must influence the amount of resources allocated to themselves. Identification of paternal effects in Arabidopsis should facilitate dissection of the genetic mechanisms involved in paternal effects.
|Number of pages
|Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
|Published - 2010