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BMC Evol Biol. 2006 Nov 15;6:96.

Assortative mating and differential male mating success in an ash hybrid zone population.

Author information

  • 1Laboratoire Ecologie, Systématique, Evolution, UMR ENGREF-CNRS 8079, Bât, 360, Université Paris-Sud, 91405 Orsay Cedex, France. pierre.gerard@u-psud.fr

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The structure and evolution of hybrid zones depend mainly on the relative importance of dispersal and local adaptation, and on the strength of assortative mating. Here, we study the influence of dispersal, temporal isolation, variability in phenotypic traits and parasite attacks on the male mating success of two parental species and hybrids by real-time pollen flow analysis. We focus on a hybrid zone population between the two closely related ash species Fraxinus excelsior L. (common ash) and F. angustifolia Vahl (narrow-leaved ash), which is composed of individuals of the two species and several hybrid types. This population is structured by flowering time: the F. excelsior individuals flower later than the F. angustifolia individuals, and the hybrid types flower in-between. Hybrids are scattered throughout the population, suggesting favorable conditions for their local adaptation. We estimate jointly the best-fitting dispersal kernel, the differences in male fecundity due to variation in phenotypic traits and level of parasite attack, and the strength of assortative mating due to differences in flowering phenology. In addition, we assess the effect of accounting for genotyping error on these estimations.

RESULTS:

We detected a very high pollen immigration rate and a fat-tailed dispersal kernel, counter-balanced by slight phenological assortative mating and short-distance pollen dispersal. Early intermediate flowering hybrids, which had the highest male mating success, showed optimal sex allocation and increased selfing rates. We detected asymmetry of gene flow, with early flowering trees participating more as pollen donors than late flowering trees.

CONCLUSION:

This study provides striking evidence that long-distance gene flow alone is not sufficient to counter-act the effects of assortative mating and selfing. Phenological assortative mating and short-distance dispersal can create temporal and spatial structuring that appears to maintain this hybrid population. The asymmetry of gene flow, with higher fertility and increased selfing, can potentially confer a selective advantage to early flowering hybrids in the zone. In the event of climate change, hybridization may provide a means for F. angustifolia to further extend its range at the expense of F. excelsior.

PMID:
17107611
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC1660552
Free PMC Article
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