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J Theor Biol. 2006 Jun 21;240(4):662-72. Epub 2005 Dec 20.

Seed and pollen flow in expanding a species' range.

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  • 1Department of Renewable Resources, 751 General Service Building, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, T6G 2H1.


The distinct processes of gene flow via seeds and pollen in hermaphrodite plants provide a biological basis for interpreting their different roles in expanding a species' range. A species' range is primarily expanded through the colonization process by seed dispersal and followed by the joint effects of both seed and pollen flow. Here we examined the effects of seed and pollen flow on shaping a species' distribution in one-dimensional space. Our results demonstrate that pollen flow can enhance range expansion when immigrating genes are adaptive to recipient populations, but can shrink a species' range when immigrating genes are maladaptive. The incompletely purging of maladaptive genes from immigrating pollen grains at the gametophyte stage can reinforce the biological barrier to range expansion. The linkage disequilibria attained by immigrating seeds and pollen grains indirectly amplify the effects of the reaction component and further limit a species' range. The cumulative effect from multiple loci each with a small effect can be substantial on altering a species' range when these genes are maladaptive. These theoretical predictions can help understand the role of pollen flow that is incapable of colonizing new habitats in range expansion.

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