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Ann Bot. 2002 Dec;90(6):691-9.

Breeding system in the dichogamous hermaphrodite Silene acutifolia (Caryophyllaceae).

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  • 1Department of Botany, Pharmacy, University of Santiago de Compostela, E-15782 Santiago de Compostela, Spain.


The breeding system of the dichogamous hermaphrodite species Silene acutifolia, endemic to north-west Spain and north and central Portugal, is examined. Pollen germinability and style-stigma receptivity were analysed to determine whether protandry is a barrier to self-fertilization. By 48 h after anthesis, pollen germinability had declined to approx. 10 %. The short straight styles are not receptive when flowers first open. They gradually elongate and curve outwards, develop stigma papillae and become receptive. There is no clear separation between stigma and style: the stigma papillae appear in a line along the length of the style. Fruit set is high regardless of pollen source; however, seed set is significantly reduced after both spontaneous and facilitated autogamy. Seed set following spontaneous autogamy was 30 % (86 % in controls) in 1998 and 33 % (87 % in controls) in 1999. Seed set following facilitated autogamy was 62 % (86 % in controls) in 1998 and 67 % (89 % in controls) in 1999. Thus, separation of the male and female phases does not prevent production of seeds by self-pollination, although it does reduce the likelihood of this. Furthermore, results of the present experiments indicate that this species has no self-incompatibility mechanisms (self-compatibility index = 0.98). The selfing rate in the study population was 0.41, which is supported by the lack of self-incompatibility systems and by the incomplete protandry.

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