Get updates on COVID-19 research at COVID-19 Resource
Crop Biotech Update

Island Plants Evolve to Have Larger Seeds

June 4, 2014

A study published at Proceedings of the Royal Society revealed that plants stuck on islands can evolve to having larger seeds. Patrick Kavanagh and Kevin Burns of Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand studied 40 island plant species from four island groups outside New Zealand, measured their seed sizes and compared these with recorded sizes in the atlas of New Zealand seeds.

Results showed that the seeds from island species were larger than their New Zealand counterparts. For instance, seeds of the shrub Coprosma propinqua, martinii variety were about one-fifth larger than those of the propinqua variety found on the New Zealand mainland. The tree Olearia chathamica had seeds about a third larger than its mainland match, Pleurophyllum criniferum. They found that the differences weren't very big but it was consistent that the seeds are larger in the islands.

According to the authors of the study, a large seed may produce larger seedlings that have a competitive advantage. Those plants may even have a survival advantage in the long term. But bigger seeds don't travel as far. And that can be a plus for an island plant.