Trade-offs between flower size and number seem likely to influence the evolution of floral display and are an important assumption of several theoretical models. We assessed floral trade-offs by imposing two generations of selection on flower size and number in a greenhouse population of bee-pollinated Eichhornia paniculata. We established a control line and two replicate selection lines of 100 plants each for large flowers (S ), small flowers (S−), and many flowers per inflorescence (N ). We compared realized heritabilities and genetic correlations with estimates based on restricted-maximum-likelihood (REML) analysis of pedigrees. Responses to selection confirmed REML heritability estimates (flower size, h2 = 0.48; daily flower number, h2 = 0.10; total flower number, h2 = 0.23). Differences in nectar, pollen, and ovule production between S and S− lines supported an overall divergence in investment per flower. Both realized and REML estimates of the genetic correlation between daily and total flower number were r = 1.0. However, correlated responses to selection were inconsistent in their support of a trade-off. In both S− lines, correlated increases in flower number indicated a genetic correlation of r = −0.6 between flower size and number. In contrast, correlated responses in N and S lines were not significant, although flower size decreased in one N line. In addition, REML estimates of genetic correlations between flower size and number were positive, and did not differ from zero when variation in leaf area and age at first flowering were taken into account. These results likely reflect the combined effects of variation in genes controlling the resources available for flowering and genes with opposing effects on flower size and number. Our results suggest that the short-term evolution of floral display is not necessarily constrained by trade-offs between flower size and number, as is often assumed.
Corresponding Editor: J. Conner