Can plants have sex with themselves? Investigating self-fertilization in California annuals
In Southern California, diverse annual plant communities germinate in the winter and bloom in early spring. With so many different species of flowers open simultaneously, competition for pollination may be fierce. But, some species may be able to self-fertilize, reducing their reliance on pollinators for reproduction. However, scientists don’t know which species are capable of self-fertilization and which must outcross to reproduce. This summer, you will have the opportunity to develop an independent research project and in the process, discover which species are capable of self-fertilization. The results of the project will be integral to helping me choose which species to include in a larger study, where I will create experimental plant communities with different diversity treatments to understand how plant diversity influences timing and fitness of multiple species.