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Evidence for asymmetrical hybridization despite pre- and post-pollination reproductive barriers between two Silene species.

ABSTRACT: Interspecific hybridization is widespread among plants; nevertheless, pre- and post-zygotic isolating mechanisms may maintain species integrity for interfertile species in sympatry despite some gene flow. Interspecific hybridization and potential isolating barriers were evaluated between co-flowering Silene asclepiadea and Silene yunnanensis in an alpine community in southwest China. We investigated morphological and molecular (nuclear microsatellites and chloroplast gene sequence) variation in sympatric populations of S. asclepiadea and S. yunnanensis. Additionally, we analyzed pollinator behaviour and compared reproductive success between the putative hybrids and their parental species. Both the molecular and morphological data indicate that there were putative natural hybrids in the field, with S. asclepiadae the ovule parent and S. yunnanensis the pollen parent. Bumblebees were the primary visitors to S. asclepiadae and putative hybrids, while butterflies were the primary visitors to S. yunnanensis Pollen production and viability were significantly lower in putative hybrids than the parental species. The direction of hybridization is quite asymmetric from S. yunnanensis to S. asclepiadea Protandry combined with later peak flowering of S. yunnanensis, and pollinator preference may have contributed to the asymmetric pattern of hybridization, but putative hybrids were rare. Our results thus suggest that despite gene flow, S. asclepiadea and S. yunnanensis can maintain species boundaries, perhaps as a result of floral isolation and low fecundity of the hybrids.


PROVIDER: S-EPMC4940505 | BioStudies | 2016-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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