I am principally interested at the different forces that shape the evolution of plant mating systems.
My master was dealing with the variation of population size and their effects on the overall genetic structure of populations. I simulated the evolution of diploid populations going through sharp bottlenecks with subsequent population growth. It is known that, if population size does not change after the bottleneck, signatures of past bottleneck events can be inferred on the only basis of allele frequency data (Cornuet, J.-M. & Luikart, G., 1996). My aim was to assess to which extent a bottleneck signature could still be inferred knowing that the population size was allowed to increase after the bottleneck.
During my PhD I explored the evolution and the maintenance of gynodioecy, a complex plant mating system involving the joint occurrence of hermaphrodites and females within populations. I used the widely studied Silene vulgaris (Caryophyllaceae) as a model to assess and understand the role and magnitude of inbreeding depression as a force maintaining gynodioecy. Across two successive generations of cross- and self-fertilization, I interestingly found that, in both generations, inbreeding depression increases along the successive life-cycle stages but also that sex ratio of the progeny of selfed hermaphrodites was generally female-biased. This study stressed the primordial importance of assessing many different fitness related life-cycle traits to properly estimate the level of inbreeding depression.
I am currently, testing the effect of inbreeding on the ability of plants to attract pollinators. This is indirectly assessed by the measure of floral display, flower size, nectar production and concentration as well as floral scents.