Some sexual consequences of being a plant.Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2022 05 09; 377(1850):20210213.PT
Plants have characteristic features that affect the expression of sexual function, notably the existence of a haploid organism in the life cycle, and in their development, which is modular, iterative and environmentally reactive. For instance, primary selection (the first filtering of the products of meiosis) is via gametes in diplontic animals, but via gametophyte organisms in plants. Intragametophytic selfing produces double haploid sporophytes which is in effect a form of clonal reproduction mediated by sexual mechanisms. In homosporous plants, the diploid sporophyte is sexless, sex being only expressed in the haploid gametophyte. However, in seed plants, the timing and location of gamete production is determined by the sporophyte, which therefore has a sexual role, and in dioecious plants has genetic sex, while the seed plant gametophyte has lost genetic sex. This evolutionary transition is one that E.J.H. Corner called 'the transference of sexuality'. The iterative development characteristic of plants can lead to a wide variety of patterns in the distribution of sexual function, and in dioecious plants poor canalization of reproductive development can lead to intrasexual mating and the production of YY supermales or WW superfemales. Finally, plant modes of asexual reproduction (agamospermy/apogamy) are also distinctive by subverting gametophytic processes. This article is part of the theme issue 'Sex determination and sex chromosome evolution in land plants'.