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Evolution. 2002 Aug;56(8):1574-85.

Mating system instability in Schiedea menziesii (Caryophyllaceae).

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  • 1Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Irvine 92697, USA.


We investigated inbreeding depression and selfing in hermaphroditic Schiedea menziesii to assess the stability of the breeding system. A combination of high selfing rates and strong inbreeding depression suggests that the mating system is unstable. The population-level selfing rate measured in three years ranged considerably from 0.425 (SE = 0.138) to 0.704 (0.048); family measures of selfing rate varied from zero to one in all three years. Inbreeding coefficients did not differ from zero, suggesting that inbred plants do not survive to reproduction in the field. Average inbreeding depression measured in two greenhouse experiments was 0.608-0.870, with values for individual plants ranging from -0.170 to 0.940. The magnitude of inbreeding depression expressed at different life-history stages depended on experimental conditions. When plants were grown during the winter, inbreeding depression was expressed at early and late life-history stages. When plants were grown during the summer, inbreeding depression was detected for germination but not for later life-history stages. Inbreeding depression for vegetative and inflorescence biomass was also measured using field-collected seeds where cross status was assigned using genotypes determined electrophoretically. We did not detect a relation between inbreeding depression and the selfing rate at the level of the individual plant. We saw no evidence for intrafloral selfing, suggesting that the evolution of increased selfing through autogamy is unlikely, despite high selfing rates. A more likely outcome of breeding system instability is the evolution of gynodioecy, which occurs in species of Schiedea closely related to S. menziesii. Females have been detected in progeny of S. menziesii that have been raised in the greenhouse. In the absence of biotic pollen vectors, the failure of these females to establish in the natural population may result from the absence of adaptations for wind pollination.

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