The genetic correlation between flower size and water use efficiency in monkeyflowers

John K. Kelly, Liza M. Holeski, H. S. Arathi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Question: Does water loss during drought stress represent an important physiological constraint on the evolution of flower size? Organism: A genetically diverse population of Mimulus guttatus (yellow monkeyflower) originally sampled from an alpine meadow in Oregon, USA. Methods: We grew plants of three different genotypic classes (small, medium, and large flowered) under both well-watered and drought-stress conditions and measured water use efficiency using stable carbon isotopes. Results: There was no difference in water use efficiency among flower size genotypes under well-watered conditions, but the water use efficiency of small-flowered plants was substantially lower than that of medium or large genotypes under drought stress. Whether this paradoxical result is a direct effect of flower size or an indirect (i.e. pleiotropic) effect, the presence of a genetic correlation between floral and physiological traits indicates that selection of one does impact the other.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-152
Number of pages6
JournalEvolutionary Ecology Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Carbon isotopes
  • Drought
  • Genetic correlations
  • Mimulus guttatus
  • Water use efficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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