Ülo Niinemets is one of the co-authors of a study freshly published in journal Plant, Cell & Environment that analyzed gender differences in the physiology of Populus cathayana. The article is called “Sexual competition and N supply interactively affect the dimorphism and competiveness of opposite sexes in Populus cathayana” and the leading author is Juan Chen. They found that the physiology of male and female individuals was significantly different, depending significantly of the amount of nitrogen in the environment.
Several important dioecious species show sexual spatial segregation (SSS) along environmental gradients that have significant ecological effect on terrestrial ecosystem. However, little attention has been paid to understanding of how males and females respond to environmental gradients and sexual competition. We compared eco-physiological parameters of males and females of Populus cathayana under different sexual competition patterns and nitrogen (N) supply levels. We found that males and females interacting with the same or opposite sex showed significant differences in biomass partition, photosynthetic capacity, carbon (C) and N metabolism, and leaf ultrastructure, and that the sexual differences to competition were importantly driven by N supply. The intersexual competition was enhanced under high N, while the intrasexual competition among females was amplified under low N. Under high N, the intersexual competition stimulated the growth of the females and negatively affected the males. In contrast, under low N, the males exposed to intrasexual competition had the highest tolerance, whereas females exposed to intrasexual competition showed the lowest adaptation among all competition patterns. Sexual competition patterns and N supply levels significantly affected the sexual dimorphism and competitiveness, which may play an important role in spatial segregation of P. cathayana populations.
Full citation: Chen, J., Dong, T., Duan, B., Korpelainen, H., Niinemets, Ü., & Li, C. (2015). Sexual competition and N supply interactively affect the dimorphism and competiveness of opposite sexes in Populus cathayana. Plant, cell & environment, DOI: 10.1111/pce.12477 (link to full text)