Fern Mating Systems

Homosporous land plants utilize three different mating systems, one of which, intragametophytic selfing, is an extreme form of inbreeding only possible in homosporous groups (which includes the majority of ferns). This mating system results in complete homozygosity in sporophyte progeny and has important evolutionary and ecological implications. Ferns are the largest group of homosporous land plants, and the prevalence of intragametophytic selfing in this lineage has been a subject of debate for decades. We are collaborating with Eddie Watkins (Colgate University) and Weston Testo (Barrington Lab, University of Vermont) to quantify the frequencies of different mating systems in homosporous ferns and examine associations between breeding systems and a variety of ecological and evolutionary traits.


  • Haufler CH, KM Pryer, E Schuettpelz, EB Sessa, DR Farrar, R Moran, JJ Schneller, JE Watkins, Jr., and MD Windham. (2016) Sex and the single gametophyte: Revising the homosporous plant life cycle in light of contemporary researchBioScience. In pressPDF.
  • Sessa EB, WL Testo, and JE Watkins, Jr. (2016) On the widespread capacity for, and functional significance of, extreme inbreeding in ferns. New Phytologist 211 (3): 1108–1119PDF