Reproductive options in plants

Seed plants have a wide range of reproductive options. Most importantly, although not exclusively:

  • They may assure cross-fertilisation (outcrossing), thereby keeping genetic diversity high. This requires vectors (insects, wind) for the transport of pollen between flowers of different individuals.
  • They may allow self-fertilisation within a single flower (selfing), thereby reducing genetic diversity by inbreeding, but also their dependence upon pollinators. Genetically, the pollination between flowers of a single individual has the same effect as selfing.
  • They may reproduce asexually (clonal reproduction), thereby avoiding the hazards of pollination, seed ripening, germination and establishment. Clonal growth may assure local population persistence, but not the migration to distant habitats.
Geum reptans
1 - Reproductive options of Geum reptans (Rosaceae)

Peculiarities of plants

  • Plants stand still, but their genes move with pollen or seeds.
  • Sexual reproduction and dispersal are usually linked.
reproductive options
2 - Simplified scheme of reproductive options