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The Ecology, Evolution, and Genetics of Plant Reproductive Systems

The study of plant reproductive systems provides crucial insights into ecological interactions and the process of evolutionary change. Reproductive success is closely allied to overall fitness, and understanding the mechanisms and drivers of reproductive fitness can help us understand the causes and consequences of the remarkable diversity of plant reproductive strategies.

This special issue of New Phytologist explores the ecology, evolution and genetics of plant reproductive systems, a highly interdisciplinary area of research that has been championed and developed by Professor Spencer Barrett of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB). The collection has its origins in a symposium held in August 2018 to mark Barrett’s retirement from the University of Toronto after 40 years. The symposium brought together leaders in the field to celebrate his outstanding career, and share new insights and views on the topic of plant reproduction. The New Phytologist Trust supported the symposium alongside EEB and the Faculty of Arts and Science at the University of Toronto.

This landmark collection of articles covers primarily new research but also includes reviews, viewpoints and commentary and is characterized by a diversity of approaches including theory, ecology, natural history, evolution, genetic and genomic approaches to the study of plant reproductive systems. Of particular significance is the fact that 25 of the 37 contributions in the special issue include current or former members of EEB and the former Botany Department as authors. This reflects the strong international reputation and excellence of research on plant reproduction at the University of Toronto. Notable contributions to the special issue by current faculty members and collaborators include:

This collection of studies serves not only as a tribute to Professor Barrett, but also as a rallying call for future researchers to focus their attention on the questions that remain unanswered and the research avenues that are yet to be fully explored. It is likely to be strongly influential in shaping future research on the ecology and evolution of plant reproduction.

Special issue: Tansley review and video

special issue

Profile: Professor Spencer Barrett

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