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Abstract Detail

Physiology & Ecophysiology

Blake, Jennifer [1], Struwe, Lena [2].

Sugars, stress, and sex-change: environmental sex determination in striped maple.

Sexual plasticity is a rare sexual system in flowering plants in which individuals may switch sex expression over the course of their lives in response to environmental or developmental factors. In insect-pollinated plants it is common for individuals to express the female sex if they have more access to important resources, are in better condition, or are larger. Acer pensylvanicum (Sapindaceae) is one of these rare sexually plastic species. Previous work on A. pensylvanicum suggests that sex expression is not related to size. In contrast to theoretical expectations, it appears that female sex expression and changes to female sex expression correlate with decreased condition.
In a manipulative study initiated in 2015, individuals of various starting sexes were severely pruned at the time of flowering. The following year, male trees had higher odds of switching to female sex expression, while female trees were more likely to die. In a separate experiment, we analyzed the resource status of trees in the form of stored carbohydrates. We found that females, regardless of size, had higher sugar levels than did males. Furthermore, males that changed to female had higher sugar levels the prior winter than did males that stayed male. Males that had been defoliated in the summer of 2015 had significantly lower levels of carbohydrates in the winter following defoliation and higher odds of not flowering the following year. The responsiveness of sex expression to damage cues in this species suggests that we might see increased numbers of females in striped maple populations due to damage incurred by increased frequency of extreme weather events. The resulting changes in sex ratios may change mortality rates, seed set, and persistence of striped maple populations and the recruitment of other desirable hardwoods which striped maple commonly suppresses.

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1 - Rutgers University, Ecology, Evolution, And Natural Resources, 237 Foran Hall, 59 Dudley Rd, Cook Campus, New Brunswick, NJ, 08901-8551, USA
2 - Rutgers University, Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources and Plant Biology, 15 College Farm Rd, Cook Campus, New Brunswick, NJ, 08901, USA

environmental sex determination
non-structural carbohydrates

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: 23, Physiology & Ecophysiology
Location: Fort Worth Ballroom 6/Omni Hotel
Date: Tuesday, June 27th, 2017
Time: 9:15 AM
Number: 23003
Abstract ID:235
Candidate for Awards:Physiological Section Physiological Section Li-COR Prize

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