Evolution of gender dimorphism: the case of male dwarfism in bryophytes
My research interests relate with evolution and systematics of land plants, and in particular of bryophytes.
My current project aims at understanding the genetic background of extreme sexual dimorphism, also known as male dwarfism. I am investigating the advantages of having dwarf males versus normal-sized males in sexually reproducing populations of Dicranum scoparium Hedw. and explore the genetic diversity of these populations.
Mosses are dependent on water for sperm cells to swim to the ovule and to successfully reproduce sexually. However, when males and females organs are on separated stem, the encounter might be hindered. Mosses have developed different strategies to get around this problem as for example male dwarfism (nannandry). Dwarf males are male stems reduced to their prime function and growing epiphytically on female stems. This can effectively reduces the distance between male and female sexual organs however, it may also increase the chance of inbreeding.
Dicranum scoparium is a species that possesses both normal-sized and dwarfed males (facultative dwarfism) and the reasons/ advantages of this morphological plasticity remain to be explained.
Before moving to Lund, I lived in the Netherlands where I did my PhD (Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden). I studied bryophyte systematics and focused on species delimitations within the widespread moss genus Dicranum Hedw., using molecular data and morphological characters.
I carried out my master project at the University of Neuchâtel (Switzerland) where I looked at the genetic variability and the viability of populations of Liparis loeselii (L.) Rich., a rare fen orchid, occurring in the French Jura and Swiss Préalps. This project was initiated by the Conservatoire botanique de Franche-Comté (France) as part of a conservation action Natura 2000.