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Are self-fertilizing plants their own worst enemy?

Image of two similar flower species, one markedly more in bud

It’s called self-fertilizing or “selfing” and, while it guarantees reproduction, plants that practice it may be contributing to their own demise.

Self-fertilizing in plants can lead to reduced diversity and an increase in mutations. Above at left: a selfing derivative species of Capsella rubella, red shepherd’s purse; at right: Capsella grandiflora, outcrossing species

“The results underscore the long-term advantages of outcrossing, which is the practice of mating between individuals, that gives us the wide array of beautiful flowers,” says Stephen Wright of the department of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Toronto.”Selfing is a good short-term strategy but over long timescales may lead to extinction.”

Full story at Futurity.

More research news from top universities.

Photo credit: Gavin Douglas, Young Wha Lee

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