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Ecological correlates and genetic consequences of evolutionary transitions from distyly to homostyly.

ABSTRACT: Background and Aims:The outbreeding floral polymorphism heterostyly frequently breaks down, resulting in the evolution of self-fertilization as a result of homostyle formation. Here, the loss of floral polymorphism in distylous Primula oreodoxa, a sub-alpine species restricted to western Sichuan, China, was examined by investigating the ecological correlates and genetic consequences of mating system transitions. Several key questions were addressed. (1) What are the frequencies, geographical distribution and reproductive characteristics of floral morphs in distylous and homostylous populations? (2) Does increased elevation influence pollinator service and the likelihood of inbreeding in populations? (3) How often has homostyly originated and what are the consequences of the breakdown of distyly for the amounts and distribution of genetic diversity in populations? Methods:Fourteen populations throughout the range of P. oreodoxa were sampled, and morph frequencies and floral characteristics were recorded. Polymorphism at microsatellite loci and chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) variation were used to quantify population genetic structure and genetic relationships among populations. Controlled pollinations and studies of pollen tube growth and fertility were conducted to determine the compatibility status of populations and their facility for autonomous self-pollination. Finally, visitation rates of long- and short-tongued pollinators to distylous and homostylous populations at different elevations were compared to determine if increased elevation was associated with deterioration in pollinator service. Key Results:In contrast to most heterostylous species, both distylous and homostylous morphs of P. oreodoxa are highly self-compatible, but only homostyles have the facility for autonomous self-pollination. Homostyles set significantly more fruit and seeds following open pollination than the distylous morphs. Visitation by long-tongued pollinators was significantly lower in homostylous populations, and overall rates of insect visitation decreased with elevation. Genetic diversity was significantly lower in homostylous populations, with evidence of increased inbreeding at higher elevation. Patterns of cpDNA variation were consistent with multiple transitions from distyly to homostyly and limited gene flow among populations. Conclusions:The results of this study support the hypothesis that the multiple loss of floral polymorphism in distylous P. oreodoxa is associated with unsatisfactory pollinator service, with homostyles benefiting from reproductive assurance as a result of autonomous self-pollination.


PROVIDER: S-EPMC5691548 | BioStudies | 2017-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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