Department of Plant Breeding, University of Helsinki, SF-00710 Helsinki, Finland
Population phenomena in higher plants are reviewed critically, particularly in relation to clonality. An array of concepts used in the field are discussed. In contrast to animals, higher plants are modular in structure. Plant populations show hierarchy at two levels: ramets and genets. In addition, their demography is far more complicated, since even the direction of development of a ramet may change by rejuvenation. Therefore, formulae concerning animal populations often require modification for plants. Furthermore, at the zygotic stage, higher plants are generally less mobile than animals. Accordingly, their population processes tend to be more local. Most populations of plants have a genetic structure: alleles and genotypes are spatially aggregated. Due to the short-ranged foraging behaviour of pollinators, genetically non-random pollination prevails. A generalized formula for parent-offspring dispersal variance is derived. It is used to analyze the effect of clonality on genetic patchiness in populations. In self-compatible species, an increase in clonality will tend to increase the degree of patchiness, while in self-incompatible species a decrease may result. Examples of population structure studies in different species are presented. A considerable degree of genetic variation appears to be found also in the populations of species with a strong allocation of resources to clonal growth or apomictic seed production. Some consequences of clonality are considered from the point of view of genetic conservation and plant breeding.
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