Evolution of selfing syndrome and its influence on genetic diversity and inbreeding: A range-wide study in Oenothera primiveris.
Premise of the study: To avoid inbreeding depression plants have evolved diverse breeding systems to favor outcrossing such as self-incompatibility. However, changes in biotic and abiotic conditions can result in selective pressures that lead to a breakdown in self-incompatibility. The shift to increased selfing is commonly associated with reduced floral features, lower attractiveness to pollinators, and increased inbreeding. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that the loss of self-incompatibility, a shift to self-fertilization (autogamy), and concomitant evolution of the selfing syndrome (reduction in floral traits associated with cross-fertilization) will lead to increased inbreeding and population differentiation in Oenothera primiveris. Across its range, this species exhibits a shift in its breeding system and floral traits from a self-incompatible population with large flowers to self-compatible populations with smaller flowers. Methods: We conducted a breeding system assessment, evaluated floral traits in the field and under controlled conditions, and measured population genetic parameters using RADseq data. Key results: Our results reveal a bimodal transition to the selfing syndrome from the west to the east of the range of O. primiveris. This shift includes variation in the breeding system, mating system, a reduction in floral traits (flower diameter, herkogamy, and scent production), a shift to greater autogamy, reduced genetic diversity, and increased inbreeding. Conclusions: The observed variation highlights the importance of range-wide studies to understand breeding system variation and the evolution of the selfing syndrome within populations and species.
Fant, Jeremie B.; Jogesh, Tania; Broadhead, Geoffrey T.; Skogen, Krissa A.; Cisternas-Fuentes, Anita; Raguso, Robert A. (2022), "Evolution of selfing syndrome and its influence on genetic diversity and inbreeding: A range-wide study in Oenothera primiveris.", Zenodo, doi: 10.5281/zenodo.6342256