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Abstract Detail


Weiner, Jacob [1], Du, Yan-Lei [2], Zhang, Cong [2], Qin, Xiao-Liang [3], Li, Feng-Min [2].

Individual fitness and population yield in wheat (Triticum aestivum).

While the role of group selection in evolution is controversial, several researchers have argued that plant breeding for agriculture should be based on group selection, because the goal in agriculture is to optimize population production, not individual fitness. The core hypothesis behind this claim is that crop genotypes with the highest individual fitness in a mixture of genotypes will not be the genotypes that produce the highest population yield, because fitness is often increased by "selfish" behaviors, which reduce population performance. We tested this hypothesis by growing 35 cultivars of spring wheat (Triticum aestivum) in mixtures and monocultures, and analyzing the relationship between population yield in monoculture and individual yield in mixture (fitness). The relationship between population yield and fitness was unimodal, as predicted. The highest yielding populations were those of cultivars that had intermediate fitness, while cultivars with the highest fitness produced low yields as populations. It is unlikely that plant breeding or genetic engineering can improve traits that natural selection has been optimizing for thousands or even millions of years, but there may be great unutilized potential in traits that increase crop yield and/or sustainability by decreasing individual fitness, giving us the opportunity to find solutions that natural selection would never produce.

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1 - University of Copenhagen, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Thorvaldsensvej 40, Frederiksberg, DK-1871, Denmark
2 - Lanzhou University, Institute of Arid Agroecology, Key Laboratory of Arid and Grassland Ecology, Lanzhou, Gansu, 730000, China
3 - Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University, College of Agronomy, Yangling, Shaanxi, 712100, China

evolutionary theory.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: 14, Ecology Section: Plant Functional Traits and Responses
Location: 201/Savannah International Trade and Convention Center
Date: Monday, August 1st, 2016
Time: 4:30 PM
Number: 14010
Abstract ID:51
Candidate for Awards:None

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