Breeding system evolution in Ficus and Moraceae

Diverse breeding systems have evolved in angiosperms from the bisexual flowers of their last common ancestor. However, breeding system evolution remains poorly understood in many plant families, including the Moraceae (figs and mulberries).

Diagram of the breeding system

In this paper, Zhang et al. address these questions using a state-of-the-art new dated phylogeny for Moraceae and, for the first time, model-based methods for ancestral state reconstruction. They find very strong support for ancestral dioecy in Moraceae, and show that monoecy was probably an intermediate step towards gynodioecy in Ficus. These results have significant implications for understanding the evolutionary origin of figs as well as breeding systems in general.

Further reading

Zhang, Q., Onstein, R. E., Little, S. A., & Sauquet, H. (2018). Estimating divergence times and ancestral breeding systems in Ficus and Moraceae. Annals of Botany, 123(1), 191–204. https://doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcy159