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Heredity (Edinb). 2008 Mar;100(3):268-74. Epub 2007 Oct 17.

Population size, self-incompatibility and genetic rescue in diploid and tetraploid races of Rutidosis leptorrhynchoides (Asteraceae).

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CSIRO Plant Industry, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia.


Self-incompatibility systems function to prevent inbreeding, and work effectively in large, genetically diverse populations. However, a decrease in population size can reduce genetic diversity at the self-incompatibility locus, which leads to a reduction in mate availability and has important demographic implications for small populations. Currently, little is known about the response of self-incompatible polyploid species to a reduction in population size. In Rutidosis leptorrhynchoides there was a significant decrease in the within-population probability of fertilization with a decline in population size for diploid populations and a marginally significant relationship for tetraploid populations, suggesting that in small populations of both chromosome races fertilization success is reduced due to a decrease in self-incompatibility allele (S-allele) diversity. There was no significant difference between the slopes of the fertility-population size relationship for diploid and tetraploid populations which indicates a similar rate of decline in fertilization success with population size for both chromosome races. Fertilization success increased when crosses were undertaken between populations and this was significantly related to population size for diploid and tetraploid populations, indicating that small populations gain the greatest benefit to fertilization success from crossing between populations. For tetraploid populations the benefits of crossing between populations tended to decline more rapidly with increasing population size. These results suggest that for small populations that have reduced fertilization success, genetic rescue by introducing new genetic material from other populations is an important means of ameliorating mate limitation issues associated with reduced S-allele diversity in both diploid and tetraploid races.

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