Source: University of Minnesota

College of Biological Sciences researcher Helene Muller-Landau  has developed a new theory explaining why some plant species produce a small number of large seeds while others produce a large number of small seeds.

Using mathematical modeling, Muller-Landau demonstrated that plants having different size seeds can coexist when regeneration sites vary in stressfulness. Species that produce large seeds (e.g., coconuts) have the advantage under stressful conditions — such as drought or shade &mdash while plants that produce large numbers of small seeds (e.g., fig species) have the advantage in areas with adequate water and light.

The research was published in the Early Online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Original press release