Send to

Choose Destination
Nature. 2004 Aug 19;430(7002):884-7.

Context-dependent autonomous self-fertilization yields reproductive assurance and mixed mating.

Author information

University of Pittsburgh, Department of Biological Sciences, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260, USA.


The evolution of self-fertilization in hermaphrodites is opposed by costs that decrease the value of self progeny relative to that of outcross progeny. However, self-fertilization is common in plants; 20% are highly selfing and 33% are intermediate between selfing and outcrossing. Darwin proposed an adaptive benefit of self-pollination in providing reproductive assurance when outcrossing is impossible. Moreover, if outcross pollen receipt is inconsistent within or between years, these conditions likewise favour self-pollination, and this can result in a mixture of self and outcross seed production (mixed mating). Despite wide acceptance, the reproductive assurance hypothesis has lacked the support of complete empirical evidence to show that variable pollination can create both the ecological and genetic conditions favouring self-pollination. We recently showed in Collinsia verna that during periods of infrequent pollinator visits, autonomous self-pollination boosted seed output per flower, the key ecological condition. Here we show low inbreeding depression and marker-based estimates of selfing, demonstrating that when the pollination environment in wild populations necessitates reproductive assurance, selfing rates increase. We provide a complete demonstration of reproductive assurance under variable pollination environments and mechanistically link reproductive assurance to intermediate selfing rates through mixed mating.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group
Loading ...
Support Center