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Sex Plant Reprod. 2009 Dec;22(4):247-55. doi: 10.1007/s00497-009-0113-4. Epub 2009 Sep 4.

The evolution of postpollination reproductive isolation in Costus.

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  • 1Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA. yost@biology.ucsc.edu


Reproductive isolation is critical to the diversification of species. Postpollination barriers may be important in limiting gene flow between closely related species, but they are relatively cryptic and their evolution is poorly understood. Here, we review the role of postpollination reproductive isolation in plants, including the various stages at which it operates and the hypotheses for how it may evolve. We then review empirical studies in the plant genus Costus, evaluating documented postpollination barriers in light of these hypotheses. We summarize isolation due to parental style length differences and present evidence supporting the hypothesis that the differences are in part a by-product of selection on floral morphology. Additionally, we show that reduced pollen adhesion, germination, and tube growth contribute to reproductive isolation between two closely related sympatric species of Costus. Geographic variation in the strength of these crossing barriers supports the hypothesis that they evolved under reinforcement, or direct natural selection to strengthen isolation.


Costus; Postpollination; Reinforcement; Reproductive isolation

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