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The extremely skewed female-biased sex ratio in the desert moss Syntrichia caninervis was investigated by assessing the regeneration capacity of detached leaves. Juvenile, green, yellow-green, and brown leaves equating to approximately 0, 2, 6, and 12 yr of age, respectively, were detached from individuals of S. caninervis collected from 10 field populations and grown in a growth chamber for 58 d at a light intensity of 33–128 µmol · m–2 · s–1. Younger leaves (0–2 yr old) tended to have a greater viability, regenerate more quickly, extend their protonemal filaments farther, produce shoots (gametophores) more quickly, produce more shoots, and accumulate a greater biomass than older leaves (6 and 12 yr old). Among younger leaf classes, regenerating female leaves were more likely to produce a shoot than male leaves and produced more shoots than male leaves. The sexes did not differ significantly in time until protonemal emergence, linear extension of protonemata, or rate of biomass accumulation. However, protonemata of male leaves tended to emerge more quickly and produce a greater total biomass, ultimately consisting mostly of protonemata, than did female leaves. The more rapid proliferation of shoots by female leaf regenerants may help to explain the rarity of males in this species.


Bryophyte; Desert; Leaf age; Leaf regeneration; Mojave Desert; Moss; Nevada; Sex dimorphism; Sex ratio; Syntrichia caninervis


Plant Biology | Plant Breeding and Genetics

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