Journal Article

Inherited variability in multiple traits determines fitness in populations of an annual legume from contrasting latitudinal origins

Rubén Milla, Adrián Escudero and Jose María Iriondo

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 103, issue 8, pages 1279-1289
Published in print June 2009 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online March 2009 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcp068
Inherited variability in multiple traits determines fitness in populations of an annual legume from contrasting latitudinal origins

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
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Background and Aims

Variation in fitness depends on corresponding variation in multiple traits which have both genetically controlled and plastic components. These traits are subjected to varying degrees of local adaptation in specific populations and, consequently, are genetically controlled to different extents. In this study it is hypothesized that modulation of different traits would have contrasting relevance for the fitness of populations of diverse origins. Specifically, assuming that environmental pressures vary across a latitudinal gradient, it is suggested that inherited variation in traits differentially determines fitness in annual Lupinus angustifolius populations from contrasting latitudinal origins in western Spain.

Methods

Seeds of L. angustifolius from three contrasting origins were grown in a common garden. Traits related to more plastic vegetative growth and more genetically conserved phenology were measured, together with estimates of reproductive success. Fitness was estimated by the number of viable seeds per plant. Structural Equation Models were used to infer causal relationships among multiple traits and fitness, separating the direct and indirect effects of morphological, phenological and reproductive traits.

Key Results

Phenological, vegetative and reproductive traits accounted for most of the fitness variation. Fitness was highest in plants of southernmost origin, mainly due to earlier flowering. Fitness within each seed origin was controlled by variation in different traits. Southern origin plants that grew to a larger size achieved higher fitness. However, plant size in plants of northernmost origin was irrelevant, but early flowering promoted higher fitness. Variation in fruit and seed set had a greater effect on the fitness of plants of central origin than phenological and size variation.

Conclusions

It is concluded that modulation of a functional trait can be relevant to fitness in a given population (i.e. affecting intensity and direction), but irrelevant in other populations. This points to the need to consider integrated phenotypes when trying to unravel local adaptation effects over single traits.

Keywords: Lupinus; Structural Equation Models; fitness; phenology; functional traits; reproductive success; SLA; seed size

Journal Article.  7306 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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