A new hypothesis for the evolution of overproduction of ovules within flowers is proposed: overproduction is a counter-strategy of female seed production in the conflict with males and/or offspring. It is advantageous for females to produce a uniform size of seeds, whereas it is advantageous for fertilized ovules to absorb more resources than this size. If there is a variance in resource absorption ability among fertilized ovules, nonuniform seeds are produced. Then, by overproducing ovules, females should select fertilized ovules with similar resource absorption rates, resulting in seeds of uniform size. A model analysis confirmed that this hypothesis works. In the model, the fertilized ovules of a plant consist of two genotypes that differ in resource absorption rate. I found that overproduction of ovules and selective abortion is advantageous if the difference in the resource absorption rates of the genotypes is large. The new hypothesis is different from the selective abortion hypothesis in that selecting ovules is advantageous even if there are no differences in the genetic quality of resulting seeds.
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Vol. 61 • No. 4