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Am Nat. 1997 Nov;150(5):618-38. doi: 10.1086/286085.

The evolution of self-fertilization in perennials.

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Department of Botany, Department of Genetics and Cell Biology, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington 99164-4238, USA.


Many plants are perennials, but studies of self-fertilization do not usually include features of perennial life histories. We therefore develop models that include selfing, a simple form of perenniality, adult inbreeding depression, and an adult survivorship cost to seed production. Our analysis shows that inbreeding depression in adults diminishes the genetic transmission advantage associated with selfing, especially in long-lived perennials that experience inbreeding depression over many seasons. Perennials also pay a cost when selfing increases total seed set at the expense of future survivorship and reproduction. Such life-history considerations shed new light on the generalization that annuals self-fertilize more than perennials. Past research suggested reproductive assurance as an explanation for this association, but common modes of selfing offer equal reproductive assurance to annuals and perennials. Instead, perennials may avoid selfing because of adult inbreeding depression and the cost to future survivorship and reproduction.


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