In closely related plant species that display strong similarities in phenology and pollinator communities, differences in breeding system and associated shifts in floral traits may have important effects on the magnitude and direction of heterospecific pollen flow and hybridization. Here, we quantified the strength of several pre- and postzygotic barriers acting between the facultatively outcrossing Centaurium erythraea and the predominantly selfing C. littorale via a suite of experiments, and estimated the frequency of hybridization in the field using molecular markers. The reproductive barriers primarily responsible for preventing hybridization were essentially prezygotic and these acted asymmetrically. Due to differences in floral display, pollen production and pollen transfer rates, heterospecific pollen flow occurred predominantly from C. erythraea to C. littorale. In C. littorale, on the other hand, close anther-stigma positioning and resulting higher capacity for autonomous selfing functioned as an efficient barrier to counterbalance the higher risk for hybrid mating. In both species the action of all reproductive barriers resulted in a small opportunity for hybrid establishment, which was confirmed by the occurrence of only ∼1% putative hybrids in the field. Our findings confirm that differences in breeding system affect heterospecific pollen transfer patterns and that autonomous selfing may efficiently prevent hybridization. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
|Publication status||Published - May-2014|
- Species and biotopes
EWI Biomedical sciences
- higher plants (Plantae)
- biodiversity policy
- fieldwork (observations and sampling)
- genetic technologies